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Craig McEwen, Published February 13 2009

Detroit Lakes manufacturer lays off 31

SJE-Rhombus, a Detroit Lakes, Minn.-based manufacturer of controls and switches, has laid off 31 workers at its headquarters plant in Detroit Lakes.

Employees have lost jobs at four of the company’s six plants in Minnesota, Ohio and China, said Mary Beth Caulfield, director of services.

The job cuts are the result of a 30 to 35 percent decline is business for the 33-year, employee-owned company, Caulfield said.

SJE-Rhombus produces liquid-level controls for water, wastewater, sewage industries, homes and businesses.

“Housing starts are low. The need for our products isn’t as prevalent,” Caulfield said.

The company employs 450 people, including about 200 who work in Detroit Lakes, she said.

“We’ve been trying to ride the storm out,” Caulfield said. “We’re cutting into the cream of the crop due to the economy.”

The company had instituted salary reductions, temporary layoffs and reductions in work hours before announcing job cuts this week, she said.

Employees who were laid off in November and December had returned to work in January.

The company is helping affected workers receive displaced-worker benefits and hopes to hire people back when the economy improves, she said.

“We think it will be a year out before the economy rebounds,” Caulfield said.


Readers can reach Forum Business Editor Craig McEwen at (701) 241-5502