Auto parts firm Rayloc laying off 260 in Hancock

The Baltimore Sun

Rayloc, an auto parts remanufacturer, will lay off 260 workers at its Western Maryland plant when it ends production there in mid-March, according to local officials.

Rayloc, which a year ago employed more than 360 workers at the Hancock plant, is owned by Atlanta-based Genuine Parts Co. Rayloc remanufactures and distributes parts through the National Automotive Parts Association system, according to the company's 2006 annual report.

Calls to the parent company were not returned yesterday.

In a letter sent to employees and Hancock Mayor Daniel A. Murphy earlier this month, the company described the move as a "change in operations" rather than a closure and said it plans to keep the facility. It will retain 25 workers for warehousing duties, said Robin L. Ferree, deputy director of the Hagerstown-Washington County Economic Development Commission. The company recently leased a large storage facility in Hagerstown, 35 miles east of Hancock.

Rayloc has long been the largest employer in Hancock, which measures less than three square miles and is home to about 1,725 people. During the past decade, two other large employers - Fleetwood Travel Trailers and raincoat manufacturer London Fog - ceased operations. Each employed about 300.

Rayloc was considered a "steady" employer and drew workers from Pennsylvania and West Virginia, Murphy said yesterday.

"It's a pretty devastating loss," the mayor said.

Murphy said Rayloc, which has been in town since 1972, gave officials no warning that it was planning layoffs.

Ferree estimated that workers will have to drive an additional 30 minutes to find new jobs with comparable pay.

Displaced workers will be given training assistance and full-time employees will receive severance packages based on their length of employment. They must stay on through March 17 to receive those benefits, Ferree said.

Murphy said other industries are hiring and he hopes to be able to secure public money for computer training for the workers.

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