270 employees impacted by Excel Industries workforce reduction

HESSTON, Kan. (KWCH) Excel Industries has just released the following statement saying approximately 270 employees at its Hesston plant will receive layoff notices today.

"Excel Industries, Inc. today announced a reorganization that includes a workforce reduction at its manufacturing facility in Hesston. The reduction in force impacted approximately 270 production positions and is effective immediately. The company will continue operating both a first and second shift.

The streamlining in Excel’s production facility follows three years of unprecedented growth as the company more than doubled in size. While marketplace demand for the company’s turf care products continues to increase, the pace has normalized in 2017. Excel continues to grow at a modest pace, though the overall market for turf care products is flat or down in part due to adverse weather and economic conditions in many parts of the country.

Excel Industries made this very difficult decision after great deliberation. The company will sponsor a job fair and provide outplacement services, assistance with COBRA benefits, and transition payments to those affected by the reorganization.

Excel Industries, Inc. remains committed to its employees, the local community and all industries its products serve."

Eyewitness News has learned that through The Wichita Business Journal's Book of List that as of 2016, Excel Industries employed 1,018 local full-time workers and 1,058 company-wide.

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UPDATE (THURSDAY 11:51 A.M.): Employees at Excel Industries will find out today whether or not they still have a job with the company.

Eyewitness News obtained a copy of the letter that is being sent out.

In it, the company states that It is restructuring its operations and that includes a reduction in the number of people at the plant.

The letter states that employment will be terminated June 21, which was Wednesday. It says the decision was difficult and made after great deliberation.

The company says it regrets not being able to inform people in person and that "Care about people" is one of the company's core values.

The letter states employees can reapply for other positions at Excel as they become available.

The company says a transition benefit will be provided after the company receives the employee's badge and parking pass, due by June 28.

The letter ends alerting employees about a job fair being held June 28, from 8 a.m. to noon at the Meridian Center in Newton.

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UPDATE (THURSDAY A.M.): A representative with Excel says they expect to send a release regarding the layoffs some time "midday" today.
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Rumors were confirmed Wednesday afternoon at Excel Industries.

"Basically, they like lied to us, telling us everything was good, and then this all of a sudden came," said employee Ashley Mosqueda.

Wednesday afternoon the company announced it was restructuring on June 22 and the workforce at its Hesston manufacturing facility would be reduced.

The news came as a shock for many employees who say they knew something was wrong but didn't know what.

"We were kind of expecting that but to hear it from management is a dead blow. No we weren't expecting that," said employee Bill Bilson.

Employees tell Eyewitness News the cuts will affect hundreds of workers.

The company said it would issue a formal statement regarding the number of employees impacted after they had been officially notified.

We spoke with businesses in town about the impact the layoffs will have locally.

"You know, Excel always goes through the seasonal changes of ups and downs," said Mick Petrocci, who's run the local hardware store for 20 years.

He says layoffs can affect his store in different ways.

"If maintenance gets laid off, then that hurts our business because they buy a lot of stuff here," Petrocci said. "But sometimes during the layoffs, maintenance comes in and gears up to do more cleaning around the plant so it's good for business in that regard."

Business owners we spoke with say they won't know how much of an impact they'll see until they know how many jobs are lost.

Excel is Hesston's second-largest employer.

The city's mayor says he's confident the community will move forward.

"What we want is the longterm viability of Excel for the city of Hesston," said Mayor David Kauffman. "There's no reason at all to think that in the long run they're not gonna be just fine. This is hopefully a temporary business lull for them, and I think they'll be fine in the long term."

Stay with Eyewitness News for updates as we get them.