Hundreds laid off after Williamsport manufacturer closes abruptly

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WILLIAMSPORT, LYCOMING COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU-TV) — A Williamsport company abruptly shuts down its facilities, leaving an estimated 400 employees out of work.

The SHOP-VAC Corporation, based in Lycoming County for nearly half a century, abruptly closed its doors Tuesday. 

A company statement blamed both financial hardship due to COVID-19, and a failed attempt to sell the company, saying quote, “We fully anticipated the sale to be completed and for the buyer to hire all employees. Unfortunately, the buyer without warning walked away from the deal. Such unforeseeable business circumstances have left us with no choice but to close our facilities.”

But Lycoming County Chamber of Commerce President Jason Fink says SHOP-VAC never reached out for COVID relief.

“Given the fact that there’s a lot of resources that are being provided to businesses, given the fact that they employ 400 people there would have been a lot of effort put forth to be able to help them make it through this,” Fink said.

An estimated 400 SHOP-VAC employees in the Williamsport area, are now out of work. Per the worker adjustment and Retraining Notification Act — or Warn Act — employers are required to provide employees with advance 60-days’ notice when halting operations. Fink says SHOP-VAC failed to do so.  

“Nobody had had any contact from the company that they were looking at taking this action. This is not something that they just arrive at. This is something that takes a process,” Fink said.

In their Warn Act letter, SHOP-VAC cited those “unforeseeable circumstances” as preventing them from providing more notice of the closure. The company said some terminations would take place immediately, while others would continue through a wind-down period until mid-November.

Either way, roughly 25 percent of the company’s global workforce, laid off with these closures.

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