ZF Lemforder lays off almost 50

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By Chris Sardelli

A company that produces automotive suspension systems in Lancaster has laid off almost 50 of its employees.

ZF Lemforder, located in the Lancaster Business Park, has laid off 47 employees. Those employees were not laid off all at once, but were phased out over the last two weeks.

“We are, in fact, having a reduction in workforce,” confirmed Ranny Adams, regional human resources manager for ZF Industries.

The Lancaster plant, part of the company’s heavy truck division, consolidated its two shifts into one shift, though the cuts were not all from one specific shift, said Bryan Johnson, spokesman for ZF Lemforder Corp., a worldwide company that specializes in automotive driveline and chassis technology.

The company asked its Lancaster employees for volunteers to be laid off in return for severance packages. A majority of those who were laid off volunteered and took the severance packages, Johnson said.

Johnson said demand has dropped significantly for the company’s products. With declines in both the amount of cars being manufactured and being bought in the country, there has been less need for the parts the company produces.

“It all depends on where the plant is located and the products that are produced,” Johnson said. “A lot of plants are going through a reduction and a lot are closing. There’s a trickle down effect because of what customers aren’t purchasing.”

According to the company’s Web site, ZF has a worldwide workforce of almost 60,000 employees, with 119 plants in 25 countries.

The firm has plants that specialize in driveline technology for cars, commercial vehicles and construction equipment.

The company also develops car chassis, powertrain and suspension technology, and has divisions for marine and aviation systems.

David Veal, assistant area director for the Lancaster Workforce Center, said it’s unfortunate that the company has let go of such a large group of employees.

He said it will contribute to the county’s already high unemployment rate. The latest rate for the county, as of December 2008, was 13.9 percent.

“This is only going to make things harder to find employment,” Veal said. “We’ll have more people out there looking for work.”

The workforce center on North White Street generally meets with employees who are about to be laid off.

Veal said his office discusses unemployment benefits that are available and assists laid-off workers in finding new job opportunities.

The office also provides resume workshops and helps employees sign up for the Workforce Investment Act, or WIA.

The WIA is a dislocated worker program that helps to retrain employees in their search for a new job.

Contact reporter Chris Sardelli  at csardelli@thelancasternews.com or at (803) 416-8416