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Lefere Forge closing after 89 years, workers disappointed

Posted at 9:12 AM, Nov 14, 2018
and last updated 2018-11-14 09:12:58-05

A Jackson factory is shutting down after nearly 90 years in operation, leaving dozens without jobs just before the holidays.

FOX 47's Cryss Walker spoke with Lefere Forge employees who say the pink slips were surprising.

Kelly Stiles says he's not looking forward to December 1st because it will be his last day after 12 years with at the steel plant.

“It was quite a shock”, Stiles said.

“A little scary. A lot of guys trying to figure out what they're gonna do now.”

The furnace operator says the management team announced the closure during a staff meeting last month, after almost 90 years in business, leaving 60 people out of work.

“Labor shortage more than anything. We're just unable to keep up with the parts demand”, Stiles explained.

Stiles told Cryss Walker the steel factory had a high turn-over rate, which possibly contributed to the closure.

“It's hard to get people in there that can actually do it and do it well. It's hot, it's piece rate, you're working non-stop. You have to work really hard to do it every day and not a lot of people make it there”, Stiles said.

Michigan Works Business Services Manager Jim Coutu told News 10 assistance is available for employees looking for another manufacturing position.

“We can help them utilize those skills that they have to transition to a new employer locally”, Coutu said.

“I currently have already spoken to five employers in the past two weeks looking to talk to individuals who are being affected by this closure.”

As for Kelly Stiles, it's going to be hard to move on from Lefere Forge and leave behind years of memories with the company he loved.

“The men, I'll definitely miss them. They made it worth going to work. Like I said a lot of them they're like family”, Stiles continued.

Michigan Works is currently helping displaced employees find new jobs.

They are located in the Commonworth Commerce Center on 209 East Washington Avenue in Jackson.

The telephone number is 517- 841 -5627.

FOX 47 reached out to Lefere Forge to get information on the closure.

We're still waiting to hear back.