Local companies looking to hire laid-off John Deere workers - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Local companies looking to hire laid-off John Deere workers

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A welder is hard at work Thursday at Henderson Products in Manchester A welder is hard at work Thursday at Henderson Products in Manchester
MANCHESTER (KWWL) -

Area companies are reaching out to the men and women who learned just last week they'll be losing their jobs at John Deere.

The news of approximately 460 layoffs in the Cedar Valley came on Friday, just a week after Deere announced more than 600 indefinite layoffs elsewhere in the Midwest.

The Cedar Valley layoffs will become effective Oct. 20.

While Deere is cutting jobs, area economic development leaders say advanced manufacturing remains strong throughout eastern Iowa. Many local companies, in fact, are looking to hire workers right now with the exact skills these John Deere workers have.

Henderson Products in Manchester is one of those companies. It manufactures heavy-duty snow- and ice-removal equipment.

Jason Jones has been a welder at Henderson for nearly a decade and said Thursday afternoon he feels for the John Deere workers losing their jobs.

"Nobody likes to lose a job. You need that income to make ends meet," Jones said. "But we are hiring here at Henderson. I mean, if they want a job, we've been 50 hours a week for all year. I think we've only had two weeks where we've been off overtime."

Henderson and other manufacturing companies nearby, including XL Specialized Trailers and Paladin Powerful Attachment Tools, say they'd welcome applications from those Deere workers.

Donna Boss is executive director of the Delaware County Economic Development office. She said Delaware County currently has nearly 100 job openings, many of which would be great fits for the John Deere workers who face layoffs.

"This is a great opportunity, and please know that there would be a team here working with employees of getting acquainted to our community and county," Boss said. "Our heart goes out to all the affected employees over at John Deere, but please know that we're just a hop, skip and a jump away right down Highway 20. Hopefully we can assist."

Steve Hoeger is chief financial officer of Henderson Products and said while John Deere does pay well, his company has increased wages in order to stay competitive with bigger companies.

"We're not as big as Deere, obviously, but we do employ 350 people, and the skill sets that are required are pretty similar," Hoeger said. "We're really looking for a lot more of the welders, fabricators, some installation technicians. We also have some positions for engineers and purchasing, too."

As for the commute, he said, Manchester is just a quick trip east along US Highway 20, some 40 miles from the Cedar Valley.

People interested in these manufacturing jobs can contact Donna Boss at the Delaware County Economic Development office. Information is HERE: http://www.delawarecountyia.com/contactus.html

KWWL reached out to John Deere's headquarters for a comment on the possibility of any more layoffs in the near future. The company did not immediately return the call.

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