Small Town Relies on Furloughing Company

Friday, February 13th 2009, 9:21 pm
By: News 9

By Rusty Surette, NEWS 9

PERRY, Oklahoma -- Anytime a company cuts back, it is bad news for employees and their families, but when it happens in the town of Perry, everyone suffers.

For the second time this year, Ditch Witch is furloughing its 1,200 employees and their salaries for a week, including Vickie Malget's husband.

"You have to tighten up a little bit and not have a lot of extra expenses if you can help it," Malget said.

Malget owns Thorn Originals, a flower shop that is also experiencing a slowdown of business.

Like companies all across the U.S., Ditch Witch, also known as The Charles Machine Works is struggling with today's economy and that's a powerful punch to Perry's pocketbook.

"Probably 25 percent of our revenue comes from them and we're really concerned," Perry City Manager Jim Davis said.

City leaders said another round of furloughs are scheduled for March and there's talk of possible layoffs. If that happens, the mayor said the entire town could suffer.

"Ditch Witch is the life blood of this community," Mayor Chuck Hall said. "They're employing nearly one in five in the community."

The cut backs are already taking a toll on some businesses.

Many fear what will happen within the next few weeks, but those same people all said they've all been through this before, and they, along with the company, will bounce back stronger than ever.