LOWVILLE — Supply chain challenges plaguing the nation have hit home locally, making a temporary production shut down and workforce layoff necessary at bowling pin manufacturer QubicaAMF.
“They can’t get what they need to keep production going,” said Cheyenne L. Steria, Lewis County Industrial Development Agency director of finance and incentives. “They’re hoping a little hiatus will help solve that for them.”
Lewis County Board of Legislators Chair Lawrence L. Dolhof and Mrs. Steria both confirmed that it has been their understanding that all production will be temporarily stopped while the supply chain issues are confronted. Mr. Dolhof said it is likely there will be some staff members who will be kept on in the interim.
According to County Manager Ryan M. Piche, about 120 people are employed at the Lowville plant.
On Sept. 20, an email sent to county officials by Cheryl A. Mayforth, director of The WorkPlace in both Jefferson and Lewis counties, said QubicaAMF would “need to layoff their workforce due to being unable to obtain raw materials” and that a WARN letter issued by the company to its employees would be forwarded. It is unclear if the need for a WARN letter was triggered by the short-term nature of the layoff.
The federal Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act, or WARN Act, requires certain businesses planning to reduce hours by 50% or lay off at least 50 people at a single location with at least 100 employees to issue letters with 60 days’ notice. State WARN law is stricter and requires 90 days’ notice of a 50% layoff for businesses with at least 50 full-time employees.
Laid off workers would be eligible for unemployment assistance.
Although the number of employees that have been laid off is not clear, it is expected to be a short-term shut down, with reopening planned for December.
“Your hope at a time like this, with so many employers looking for workers, is that (the laid-off workers) don’t jump ship so (QubicaAMF) has a workforce to come back to in December,” Mrs. Steria said.
Last week, the employer communicated with public officials that the layoff may be necessary but that they were hoping to find a solution first, according to Mrs. Steria.
It is unclear as to whether the availability of raw materials is the issue, or if the nationwide commercial driver and transportation shortage is creating the problem for QubicaAMF.
“There’s layers of issues with the supply chain and it’s worse than anybody predicted,” she said.
Questions still remain about the start date for the production halt and layoffs.
A local representative for QubicaAMF said the company has no comment because it is “proprietary information.”
Ms. Mayforth could not be reached Wednesday.
Early in the COVID-19 pandemic, the pin maker was able to get a special waiver through the Empire State Development Corporation to continue manufacturing with available wood supply that may have otherwise been damaged from sitting outside for an extended period if a shut down had occurred.
Because QubicaAMF was not eligible for the Paycheck Protection Program, the company had to furlough some employees at that time but was able to bring people back as soon it could, Mr. Piche said at that time.
According to the company’s corporate website, the 117,000-square-foot facility builds more than one million bowling pins annually.
QubicaAMF also manufactures pinspotters, bowling lanes and other bowling products in its 360,000-square-foot facility with more than 300 employees in Virginia, and the electronics for bowling alleys in Bologna, Italy, at a 38,750-square-foot facility that employs more than 110 people.