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USGNN Original StoryTRACO, YKK AP Feel Effects of Slow Construction in Georgia; YKK AP Stays Focused on Productivity
March 10, 2009

The state of Georgia's unemployment rate is the highest it's ever been since 1976 when the U.S. Department of Labor's Bureau of Labor Statistics began standardizing unemployment rates among all states. And now, a recently announced plant shut-down and employee layoffs at two different aluminum window companies in Georgia will soon leave even more of the state's workers searching for jobs.

TRACO in Bainbridge, Ga., will shut down its plant there indefinitely and YKK AP in Dublin has implemented a staff reduction. For both companies, these actions are a result of the slow construction market.

For TRACO, the plant's 70 employees were given a 60-day warning notice yesterday that the plant would be closing. The shutdown is said to be indefinite and some employees will be kept on staff for facility maintenance. According to news reports, TRACO officials say if the economy turns around they'll re-evaluate the closing. (CLICK HERE for related article.)

At press time officials from TRACO had not responded to™'s requests for comment.

In Dublin, YKK AP recently reduced its staff by fewer than 20 full-time employees. The Dublin location has about 440 employees and is one of the county's largest employers, and for Oliver Stepe, senior vice president, YKK AP America, just because business is slow, doesn't mean this is still not a good time to be productive.

"We are very well positioned to remain strong during this current economic crisis. Our recent operational adjustments are not a sign that we are shrinking back, but rather a sign that in combination with continuous and expanded product development efforts, we will be the most proactive manufacturer to enhance our value to the market and, most importantly, increase our customers' ability to gain new business opportunities as well," Stepe told "Our efforts in the past two years in product development, expansion and a new supply chain management system are now really paying off (editor's note: be sure and check out an upcoming issue of USGlass magazine to read more about YKK AP's newest products). For example, the past few months we have seen our on-time delivery index at its highest point in our history. We also just launched a brand new, innovative transportation system in a test region that we hope to expand throughout the year."

Likewise, Stepe says during these tough economic times while it's important for companies to remain competitive, they should not necessarily focus too much on price as a business strategy.

"Now is not the time to slash prices and fall victim to those who may try to take advantage of the current economic crisis. If companies are faced with lower volumes at lower prices, it will be very difficult to manage their business," Stepe says. "Companies must focus on their core values and be clear about the value they bring to the market. Obtaining appropriate and fair pricing for goods and services is critical to any economic recovery."

Stepe also adds that economic downturns have somewhat of a filtration affect on the market, which is not all bad (CLICK HERE to view a related interview with Stepe). "The strongest and most savvy business owners and companies will come out of this period stronger than they went in, and new entrepreneurs will be born and create products and markets that are not yet visible to the average person," he says. "In my opinion, this cycle and the spirit of innovation that is inherent to those who call America home is what makes the USA's economic system among the strongest and most admired in the world."

He continues, "As part of an innovative company that started in the USA less than 20 years ago, and part of a very strong and diversified global enterprise that is 40,000-plus team members strong, I am confident that we will continue to increase our value to our customers throughout this challenging period."

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