HANOVER TOWNSHIP – At least 28 employees of Penn Refrigeration Services, a commercial refrigerator manufacturing and installation facility, were laid off Friday, company and union officials confirmed.
Co-owner Al Finarelli Jr. confirmed there was a major layoff at the plant on Woodbury Street affecting many of the company's 30 to 40 employees. He said employees were given notice of the pending layoffs earlier this week but declined to say how many workers would be affected.
Warren F. Faust, business manager for the Sheet Metal Workers International, Local 44, said all 28 of the union's workers at the plant were laid off Friday or will be laid off early next week, the largest layoff in the company's history.
Faust said it was his understanding the layoff would also affect non-union management and administrative staff, but could not say how many of those workers would be let go.
Local 44 is currently working with management at Penn Refrigeration along with state and local leaders that we've reached out to explore every avenue we can to keep this manufacturing facility open, Faust said.
He said the union spoke with company management about the layoffs Friday and would meet with owners next week. Because the layoffs are not necessarily permanent, workers were not given severance packages, Faust said.
The company typically closes at 3:30 p.m. on Friday, according to the company, but the plant floor was empty by 3 p.m.
Finarelli said the company is not closing.
As we work through the process we'll see where we're going, he said.
Penn Refrigeration has been in business 68 years and once employed as many as 60 workers. It manufactures and delivers insulated panels and refrigeration equipment across the continental United States, according to the company's website.
Finarelli said economic conditions are to blame for the layoffs, as sales have declined in recent years.
About eight employees had been laid off in February, according to Faust.
The construction industry as a whole has been slower, Faust said. Any time a new business opens they'd rather renovate an old building than build a new one. Rather than a restaurant getting a new cooler box they'll order new seals and fix up what they've got.
Our deepest thoughts are with the workers, Faust added. A lot of these people have been there 30-plus years. It's been a tough week.
The announcement follows another mass layoff in Hanover Township earlier in the year. In August, vinyl window manufacturer Dove Industries, Inc. notified workers it would close its plant on the Sans Souci Parkway and lay off 106 workers.
Hanover Township Manager John J. Sipper said the layoffs will have an impact on the township.
Obviously it increases the unemployment in the township, he said. It creates a financial hardship for all of the people that work there, we lose a certain amount of taxes, and surrounding businesses will also lose business because these people that were in the area will not be patronizing those restaurants and businesses nearby – they won't be driving by every day – so it does have a trickle down effect.
I feel sorry for every one of those people, Sipper added. Penn Refrigeration has been in business a long time; they have quality employees.