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Youngsville company cuts costs, hours so workers can keep jobs

Posted January 29, 2009
Updated March 9, 2009

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— Almost every day, there are reports of mass layoffs and companies slashing workers' hours. During these tough economic times, however, some businesses are getting creative to stay afloat.

At Welsh Paper Co. in Youngsville, everyone has pitched in to save jobs. Jimmie Upchurch is trained to work in shipping and receiving, but he is doing a lot more these days.

"If I have to make a delivery, I'll jump in a truck. If I have to unload a truck, I'll unload a truck,” Upchurch said.

Welsh Paper Company in Youngsville Paper company cuts costs to avoid layoffs

Welsh decided to do everything it could to avoid laying off people off. The solution was to cut everybody's hours by a certain percentage each week and keep employees extra busy.

"What we've done is built a matrix of their skills, and we've done a lot of cross-training to make sure nothing suffers on the outside,” Tony Lovette, Welsh Paper president, said.

In perhaps the biggest change, the company canceled all contracts with outside vendors. There are no more cleaning crews, or coffee service or outsiders filling the vending machines. The staff is pitching in to do that work, even upper management

"The title doesn't mean a whole lot. Besides, I've been here a long time and have a lot of experience, but we're all emptying trash cans, (and) changing paper towel dispensers,” said Mark Smolan, vice president of purchasing.

These changes aren't just happening inside the building at Welsh. They extend outside to grounds maintenance, too.

"We've got warehouse workers right now that are taking care of the grounds: painting, sheet rock, wiring, plumbing. We're finding folks that have skills inside that we never knew they had," Lovette said.

Employees say the reduction in hours and doing work that isn't in their job descriptions sure beats being unemployed.

"I have to be thankful that we still have 32 hours, (and) still have a job,  which means we still got benefits,” Upchurch said.

"We're wearing several more hats than we're used to wearing, but as a result, I think it has improved morale because it has required us to pull together,” Smolan said.

Lovette says the company has saved 15 percent so far.

28 Comments

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  • guckfordon Feb 3, 2009

    Eduardo, Dont blast others for having an opinion. At first glance this seems like a great story and a great step. However those that have experience with the company and its practices are finding this story to be nothing but pure comedy. At any rate... Hang in there Welsh employees who are in the trenches. Remember that its you making up for all the mistakes the ivory circle is making that is keeping this company from shutting its doors. Not the "matrix of your skills"

  • Eduardo1 Jan 30, 2009

    White Eagle and the others who have made intelligent remarks about the company, should be congratulated. This is a smart thing for private enterprise to do, and never would be done, by Government on any level, nor Unions. They would go on strike before working it out with management.. And when companies close the doors the first comment, is the company must have had two sets of books. emilysmom1208, your comments are typical of a Government employee or union mentality for that you get a big ZERO. You would rather see people out of work, than some reduced hours until times are better. and what the heck, does the EPA have to do with this?

  • emilysmom1208 Jan 30, 2009

    Perhaps the EPA would like to become aware of some of the horrid practices of this company- please do not be fooled and give them your business.

  • alshomes Jan 30, 2009

    You are only doing what you should have being doing to start with, I hope it will continue when things get better.

  • GWALLY Jan 30, 2009

    When was the last time you heard of a government lay off....hmmmm...??? When was the last time you heard of government increasing taxes or creating a "new tax" to create more revenue for themselves...hmmmmm....why, just this morning!!!!

  • whatusay Jan 30, 2009

    And our state government wants to raise taxes to keep from cutting state workers wages...... I am sure the state might be able to find a state employee who could change the toilet paper if they look long enough.

  • GWALLY Jan 30, 2009

    If only the Federal, State and local governments lived and worked and had to "think" in the real world like this company does...!!!!!

  • White Eagle Jan 30, 2009

    While the company, in better times, may have been a bit extravagant with fancy company cars for the executives, the workers still had jobs. Now that times are tight, their move to reduce workers hours, "cross-train" and suspend outside contracts should be applauded. They didn't have to do that. Instead, they could have just laid people off and yes, it may eventually come to that if the economy gets worse. But in the meantime, they seem to be trying to help everyone by keeping them employed and busy. Is it good PR, darn straight! However, if you faced being laid off verse working reduced hours and doing other jobs but keeping your benefits, which would you choose? Do you really need to think about it?

  • ncguy Jan 30, 2009

    If only our government could do the same!

  • doubletap357 Jan 30, 2009

    I applaud this Company, Bravo! You are the kind of company that I would go out of my way to do business with.

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