Bush Hog lays off more than 100 employees due to slowdown

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, June 10, 2003

The management of Bush Hog has moved to reaffirm the company’s longstanding commitment to Selma following reports that more than 100 employees here were laid off effective May 30.

James Bearden, executive vice president for finance and administration, said Monday that the company’s Selma facility continues to employ some 725 workers in the wake of layoffs that affected &uot;just over&uot; 100 employees.

The company manufactures a line of rotary cutters used by farmers and ranchers &045;&045; as well as many municipalities &045;&045; to control vegetation growth. The company, which was founded in Selma in 1951, also manufactures front-end loaders, zero-turn radius mowers and various landscaping equipment.

Bearden said layoffs were made &uot;across the board&uot; and not just in one department.

Bearden added that if the economy picks up the company could rehire at least some of those who have been laid off. &uot;We would like to say we would hire everyone back,&uot; he said, &uot;but we made no commitments.&uot;

In an attempt to quash any rumors that might be circulating, the company sent a letter to all remaining employees Friday stating that no further layoffs are anticipated.

The letter read, in part, &uot;We regret the impact that this has on the life of our employees and their families. However, we must adjust to the ever-changing business conditions that we face…. Bush Hog remains committed to Selma, to growing our business and being profitable, which in the long term is beneficial to all of us at Bush Hog.&uot;

Bearden called the decision to institute layoffs &uot;the toughest decision&uot; any management organization has to make. He explained, &uot;That’s because not only are you dealing with the individual employee, but you’re dealing with his family as well. Their job directly affects their livelihood.&uot;

Until as recently as the late 1980s it was not uncommon for the company to hire workers on a seasonal basis, as dictated by the cyclical nature of its product line, according to Bearden.

The company recently sold its Bush Hog Turf Division located in Opp, saying it wanted to concentrate on its core product line.