October 25, 2014

Elyria
Partly cloudy with showers
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Invacare laying off 30, including county commissioner

ELYRIA — Invacare Corp. has laid off 50 employees, including 30 who will lose their jobs at the company’s Elyria headquarters.

Williams

Among the employees to lose their jobs is Lorain County Commissioner Tom Williams, who was an electromechanical process engineer in the company’s quality control department.

Williams said he learned he was losing his job after returning Monday from bereavement leave. Williams’ father died last week.

Invacare spokeswoman Lara Mahoney said most of the workers were informed of the layoffs Thursday. She said the majority of the jobs that were eliminated as part of the company’s efforts to cut costs were white-collar positions. She declined to comment on any specific employees.

“We need to make sure we’re running as efficiently as we can as a company and we have to make difficult decisions,” Mahoney said.

Laid-off workers will receive severance packages and will be eligible for unemployment, she said.

Williams said he has no hard feelings about the layoff. He said he understands that Invacare needs to do what it must to maintain the bottom line and make a profit for shareholders.

“It’s business,” he said. “You’ve got to do what you’ve got to do.”

Williams also said that he had never planned to remain at Invacare for his entire four-year term as a commissioner.

“I’m glad it was me and not somebody else,” he said.

Williams, a Republican who took office in January, said he will now have more time to focus on fixing the problems plaguing Lorain County, including a looming budget gap he and his fellow commissioners hope to close with a 0.25 percent sales tax hike.

Williams estimated that he has been working about 30 hours per week on county business, but will increase that now that he no longer has his job at Invacare. The job of commissioner is considered a part-time position and by state law, each commissioner is paid $76,976 annually.

Mahoney said this month’s layoffs accounted for less than 1 percent of Invacare’s global workforce of roughly 6,100 employees. She said no additional layoffs are planned and the company is taking other steps to streamline costs, including trying to reduce its travel budget.

“We’ll evaluate what our needs are,” she said.

Invacare’s last major round of layoffs was in 2006, Mahoney said, and cost around 200 workers their jobs. But she said those were voluntary layoffs with severance packages and retraining.

Contact Brad Dicken at 329-7147 or bdicken@chroniclet.com.