Page 48 - BusinessWest October 13, 2021
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 Smith & Wesson
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tion sounds like part of a movement, many elected officials, including Lesser, were not exactly buying the company’s stated reason for leaving.
In fact, he referred back to that same press release for some evidence. In it, the company said it was also relocating its distribution operations in Columbia, Mo. to the new, $120 million facility in Maryville.
“I don’t believe their rationale why they’re leaving,” he went on. “The politics of Massachusetts have been the way they are for a very long time, and at the very same time that they announced a move in Spring- field, they also announce they’re closing operations in Missouri, a state that has very lax gun laws.”
The bill calling for a ban on the manufacture of certain assault weapons, Lesser noted, “has been filed for years and years. And 6,000 bills are filed every year on every conceivable topic; as the speaker said, for a company to make a decision of this magnitude off of one filed piece of legislation doesn’t make any sense.”
Sullivan said there’s no doubt that Tennes-
see, and probably other, more gun-friendly states and regions, aggressively pursued Smith & Wesson because ... this is what they do.
“The states are actively working every day to get companies to move to their state,” he said. “They offer big incentives, and I have no idea what their package was or wasn’t, but they can show a business- friendly attitude, and in this case, they can show an atmosphere that is more comfortable around Second Amendment issues.”
Another Shot at Employment
While the company’s reasons for leaving have come into question, the loss of 550 jobs locally is real, and that has become the focus of attention for many elected officials and area agencies, who have pledged to help secure new employment opportunities should these individuals decide not to relocate to Tennessee.
“Our first issue of concern is for the employees, enduring that they have a landing spot, in either a job performing the same task or something that’s simi- lar,” Sheehan told BusinessWest. “A number of manu- facturing businesses have reached out already, to MassHire and the mayor’s office, about recruitment of those folks.”
It helps, he added that no one is losing their job immediately, with the move not scheduled to be complete until 2023.
“It’s not happening tomorrow, so we have time to plan for this,” he added. “But it’s an unfortunate situ- ation, obviously — they’re good manufacturing jobs that are housed in Springfield, and we would have liked them to stay in Springfield.”
Like others we spoke with, Sheehan said this is a conducive market to find new employment in manu- facturing, he doesn’t want the fate of hundreds of workers left to the whims of that market, so a coordi- nated effort is in order, involving MassHire Hampden County, the EDC, and city officials, to coordinate a response that helps people identify, train for, and suc-
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including shots of the site before, during, and after the renovation is complete.
My friend and his family were ultimately able to pivot their renovation to another contractor, who repaired Craftsmen’s mistakes and finished the proj- ect. The family is now happily enjoying their beauti- ful, freshly remodeled home.
If my friends had only done more diligent research
ceed in new jobs.
“With any type of upheaval like this, it’s dis-
tressing,” he noted. “Our focus is to try to ensure as little economic uncertainty as possible for these employees.”
Dave Cruise, president and CEO of MassHire Hampden County, said his agency is treating Smith & Wesson’s announcement as a reduction in force, or RIF, and not a plant closing, because the plant isn’t closing — 1,000 jobs will remain here in Springfield.
But it’s an unusual RIF in that the jobs won’t offi- cially be lost for roughly two years, until the company builds and moves into its new facilities in Tennessee. At present, Cruise’s agency is awaiting more informa- tion from Smith & Wesson on the specific nature of the jobs to be moved before putting in place a formal plan of action to assist those employees impacted by the decision.
“We have a team of people that we deploy when- ever we have this type of situation,” he explained.
“We appreciate the opportunity through Mayor Sarno and his administration to begin to discuss the possibility of members of Smith & Wesson’s skilled labor force considering positions at Eastman in the future,” wrote Plant Manager Shawn Pace. “When those workers and Smith & Wesson are ready, we want them to know that we are here and want to be helpful. Eastman continually reviews its business and workforce strategies to remain competitive and to ensure our long-term success. Like many, we are still learning about Smith & Wesson’s announcement. Eastman stands ready to offer any assistance that Mayor Sarno, his administration, and Smith & Wes- son deem appropriate.”
Many other companies are similarly positioned
to absorb workers whose jobs are being relocated
to Tennessee, said Lesser, reiterating his thoughts about this possibly being a blessing in disguise for the region and especially its precision-manufacturing base.
“It’s not happening tomorrow, so we
have time to plan for this. But it’s an
unfortunate situation, obviously —
they’re good manufacturing jobs that are
housed in Springfield, and we would
“I got a lot of inqui- ries from people all over the state who are in the private sector who are eager to expand and eager to hire people, including some very fast-growing industries like life science, biotech, and robotics,” he told BusinessWest, adding
     havelikedthemtostayinSpringfield.” that,while2023istwo years away, many of
 TIM SHEEHAN the companies looking
 “Right now, we’re looking to gather a little more infor- mation — we don’t much more than what we read in the papers — and whenever they sort that out, I’m sure we’ll be able to work with them and see how we come at this.
“It’s hard for us to move forward because it’s still pretty raw,” he went on. “And I’m sure they’re work- ing hard to determine exactly who is being impacted by this. When we know more, we’ll be able to put in motion what we normally do in these situations.”
Loaded and Locked
While elected officials and economic-develop- ment leaders have voiced concern about the jobs to be relocated and have made assisting those workers their top priority, S&W’s announcement comes at a time when companies across every sector, and espe- cially manufacturing, are struggling to find qualified workers.
In fact, many are already sending inquiries to Lesser’s desk, Cruise’s office, and other destinations about when and how such workers might be become available long before Smith & Wesson departs for Tennessee.
Indian Orchard-based Eastman Corp., a maker of car windshields and a host of other products, issued a statement through Springfield Mayor Domenic Sarno’s office announcing it is ready, willing, and able to hire some of those being displaced.
and consulted with an attorney before working with Craftsmen, they could have potentially avoided the entire awful experience. Instead, they had to live through an enormous amount of stress, the upheaval of an unfinished living space, hideously long delays, and considerable additional expenses. You can learn from their mishaps and use the steps above as impor- tant preventive measures. They may be your — and your house’s — saving grace. v
for help are on a strong growth trajectory, and still will be two years from now.
Elaborating, Lesser cited the tone set the state’s recent Manufacturing Mash-Up event in Worcester late last month, a day-long gathering of those in pre- cision manufacturing.
“We had hundreds of companies from across the state, including a lot from Western Mass.,” he noted. “And they were all saying that they’re busier than they ever have been, business has never been better, and they’re all looking to hire people. And a lot of these companies are in really fast-moving, high-growth areas — robotics, life sciences, medical devices, clean energy.
“We have to react swiftly and make sure those 550 families are taken care of,” he went on. “But it’s also important for people to see the big picture.”
Sullivan agreed.
“I understand that not every manufacturing job can be plug-and-play,” he noted. “But right now, any company that does any kind of manufacturing work is looking to hire. I’m optimistic that everyone who chooses not to move with Smith & Wesson will be able to find a job. That won’t mean that their lives aren’t interrupted, but there are opportunities within this region for them.” v
George O’Brien can be reached at [email protected]
Attorney Joshua L. Woods is an associate with BaconWilson,P.C.andamemberofthefirm’s business, corporate, and commercial law team.
He has extensive experience in matters of business law, including all aspects of corporate formation, franchising, joint ventures, leasing, and business and commercial litigation. He is licensed to practice in both Massachusetts and Connecticut; 413-781-0560; [email protected]
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