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Monrovia layoffs cut deep

Monrovia, one of Grady County’s largest employers, announced a major, company wide restructuring that will result in the idling of 58 employees at its Cairo nursery operation.
According to Technical Services Manager Jerry Lee, the layoffs were announced last Wednesday and affect 10 percent of the company’s total workforce. In addition to the layoffs here, Monrovia released another 124 employees at its other locations.
Corporate officials say that the layoffs at other nurseries were: Azusa, California – 12; Visalia, California – 45; Dayton, Oregon – 54; and LaGrange, North Carolina – 13.
The Cairo’s nursery’s total employment now stands at 303, according to Lee.
Sales representatives were not affected since they are all independent contractors and not members of the company staff.
The layoffs included both craftsmen in nursery production and salaried workers in management.
All the full-time employees who were idled have been offered severance pay based on length of service.
“Our sales have declined in the past two years and, in order to meet our obligations, it has become necessary to reduce costs. One of the ways to do that is to lay off staff,” Lee said.
In an attempt to return to profitability, Monrovia has begun restructuring the company, reorganizing many departments and growing areas.
Additional consolidation of operations locally may be required, but Lee declined to comment on rumors that the Hawthorne Trail Division of the nursery might be closed and operations shifted to the main nursery located on GA Hwy. 111 South.
Lee says the company is looking at selling all nonusable land and limiting overtime and travel, as well as slicing department budgets.
According to Lee, all craftsman took a pay cut last year to avoid layoffs and seasonal workers were employed for shorter periods of time.
“This is a challenging time in the nursery industry,” Lee notes and points out that many of Monrovia’s competitors have either closed or filed for bankruptcy protection.
Company officials remain optimistic that by controlling expenses, improving sales and maintaining quality, Monrovia can return to profitability.
“Like many businesses, we are just trying to hang on until the economy turns around. With no building going on, it’s a tough business to be in right now. We certainly hope all of the actions taken are temporary,” Lee said.

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