Country Home Products — named one of Vermont’s best places to work in 2017 — has announced it is laying off dozens of Vermont workers. There’s a major layoff announcement in Winooski. Country Home Products informed employees this week that dozens will soon be out of a job.[…] The Vermont-born maker of outdoor power tools gave 67 employees a letter or reached out by phone, telling workers they are out of a job and when their last day will be.
In 2009 the longtime Vermont business Country HomeProducts/DR Power raised $12 million from 24 foreign investors through the EB-5 investment-for-visas program. The $12 million was used to fund product development and market expansion. As a designated “troubled business,” the company escaped the normal EB-5 requirement to create 10 jobs and only had to preserve existing jobs.
Six years passed, and in 2015 Country Home Products, now with a market value of $2.1 billion, was sold to Generac Holdings Inc., a larger publicly traded business. Generac is headquartered in Waukesha, WI, the CEO is Aaron Jagdfeld, and the company employs 4,202 people. Jagdfeld’s overall compensation in 2016 was $3.9 million, while all executive compensation was up 6.51% the same year.
And so now the layoffs start. Country Home Products president Matt Bieber says the full-time, part-time and seasonal layoffs are in addition to the complete closure of their Winooski assembly plant. [Emphasis added.]
Kind of raises a few questions about what “job preservation” in Vermont actually means. And whose job and for how long was it supposed to be preserved?
I am sure we will be told there isn’t much the State can do other than speedily provide unemployment benefits and perhaps job counseling. Although Governor Scott offers this: “Any job loss in the state of Vermont is concerning,” His suggestion that, “It reinforces that we have to watch every dollar. We have to make Vermont more affordable,” might ring kind of hollow to those now out a good job. No prescriptions available for this malady from the Gov., just take two ‘affordables’ and call me in the morning.