Jobs are here for laid-off employees

BRAD HORN/Nevada Appeal Josephine Wojtowicz started at Mr. Gasket in 1979. The 125,000-square-foot Carson City plant will close Dec. 31.

BRAD HORN/Nevada Appeal Josephine Wojtowicz started at Mr. Gasket in 1979. The 125,000-square-foot Carson City plant will close Dec. 31.

Carson City's manufacturing sector should be strong enough to absorb the 70-plus employees who will be laid off this year when Mr. Gasket closes, area experts say.

Finding skilled workers is the No. 1 issue for area manufacturers, said Sandy Haslem, director of Management Assistance Partnership, the industrial extension program for the Nevada System of Higher Education.

"It's rare that we come across a manufacturer that's not looking to hire skilled workers," she said.

The capital city has become a hub of industry in Northern Nevada, so officials worked to keep Mr. Gasket here - to little avail.

"We asked them if they'd like to look at another location (in Carson City)," said Ron Weisinger, executive director of the Northern Nevada Development Authority. The mission of the organization is to recruit and retain business. "We made numerous appointments. They didn't show up."

The Cleveland-based company announced last week that it's leaving Carson City to cut costs.

The closure will leave about 75 full, part-time and temporary workers looking for new employment as the company divests throughout the year. The chief operating officer expressed sorrow for closing the operation on Mallory Way because of economic pressures from foreign competitors.

"Anything Nevada could've done for us wouldn't have offset a consolidation of the facility," said Dennis Rogers, executive vice president and chief operations officer for Mr. Gasket Inc. "We tried everything we could to stay there. The work force was excellent. It was an easy place to recruit to because it's such a nice area. Cleveland doesn't have that. We tried to stay there, but financially it didn't make sense. We have available capacity here (Cleveland), vendors here. It made more sense to consolidate here."

The automotive parts manufacturer has operated in Carson City for nearly 40 years. Employees said they saw it coming. Efforts are underway to place employees in different companies. Mr. Gasket is expected to conduct a job fair. The 125,000-square-foot Carson City plant will close Dec. 31.

A hint about the company's uncertain future came in February, when Mr. Gasket closed its shifter manufacturing division here after selling it to a competitor for an undisclosed amount.

Haslem, whose organization provides business and technical solutions for Nevada industry, said this was a business decision that didn't fall in Carson City's favor. But others will.

"The employment market is very good for people to find work," said Gary Eckman, owner of Eckman Industries Nevada.

This departure is not all doom and gloom for employees. A local employment expert and several manufacturers said there are opportunities for skilled laborers.

Christina Slade, business services consultant at Carson City JobConnect, said there are more than 250 manufacturers in Carson City, Douglas, Lyon and Storey counties. Pay ranges from $8-$15 an hour. Manufacturing is one of the top employers in the capital city.

"If they have good machining skills, they should be able to put together a resume and find employment in this labor market," she said.

Rice Hydro Inc. has an opening for an assembly welder, and positions in the sales and clerical offices.

"We still struggle to find people," said general manager Denese Doherty. Rice Hydro manufactures light construction equipment.

Positions there pay $9-$14 an hour.

• Contact reporter Becky Bosshart at or 881-1212.


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