WILLIAMSPORT, LYCOMING COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU-TV) — A Williamsport-based company that closed up shop abruptly after over 50 years in the region has announced they have a buyer.
The well-known Shop-Vac corporation announced in September they’d be shutting down their facilities, leaving hundreds out of work in an instant. After a sale of the company was announced Christmas Eve, we now have the name of the buyer, who says they intend to bring back those employees once operations return to normal.
When Shop-Vac suddenly announced its closure in September, VP of operations Bill Cooper said he and his staff were blindsided.
“There were a lot of hurt feelings. There were a lot of people who have been here for many, many years. And they felt that they were owed a little more,” Cooper said.
That decision, made after a sale of the company fell through, left hundreds of Shop-Vac employees jobless.
But over the holidays, the company announced they’d been sold, successfully this time, to industrial manufacturer GreatStar.
“We’re back. We’re going to be bigger and better, we think, than ever before. And we’re ready to move ahead,” said Gary Duboff, President and CEO, GreatStar Tools USA.
Duboff says the company plans to rehire laid-off employees, but with Shop-Vac’s sales, marketing, and supply chain gutted from the shutdown, it may take a little time.
“Our intention is to bring those jobs back. What I need is, I need patience. We need people to understand that we’re starting over,” Duboff said.
Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Jason Fink says the impact of the sale can’t be overstated.
“While there are jobs out there, being able to replace good quality jobs like this are hard. And being able to know that people are gonna have the opportunity to get their jobs back once they have their house in order here,” Fink said.
Fink is hopeful GreatStar’s diverse manufacturing capacity could even grow the brand and with it, the number of jobs.
“They make other types of tools, and being able to see what they were able to acquire with some of the plastics manufacturing that’s done with Shop-Vac, could allow them to look at other things that they could produce here,” he said.
A difficult year for workers everywhere, ending with a touch of hope.
“It’s such a relief. It’s a huge relief, especially over the Christmas holidays. Just a perfect Christmas gift,” Cooper said.
Duboff stressed that while the company plans to bring its workers back, it’s not as simple as flipping the switch. When the previous owners shut down operations in September, that effectively eliminated any ability to market and sell the product.
So, once those capacities are up and running again, things can slowly move back to normal.
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