Porter's plans to cut 70 workers

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After losing its biggest customer, Porter's Fabrication plans to lay off about 70 manufacturing employees locally by mid-November, according to a corporate spokesman.

Porter's Group Chief Operating Officer Ray Patterson in Kings Mountain, North Carolina, said on Friday he notified employees at the Sumter operation with a 60-day advance notification of job losses. A federal labor law - the Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act - requires employers with 100 or more employees to give the advance notification before mass layoffs.

Porter's Fabrication, 1485 Diebold Drive, is a local manufacturer of safes and ATM machines with a little more than 100 employees.

Patterson said NCR Corp., a large U.S. safe and cash register manufacturer, has notified Porter's Group that it will be pulling and outsourcing its business to India and China based on price reasoning at the beginning of November.

Patterson said Porter's Fabrication will be retaining its second-largest customer, Diebold, and some other customers at the Sumter facility, but it will downsize to about 40 employees by Nov. 10.

The job losses locally will be across the board and include hourly mainline workers and some salaried staff, according to Patterson.

Patterson said the Sumter facility is the only one of four Porter's Group sites that's planning layoffs at this time. Other Porter's sites are in Kings Mountain; Lynchburg, Virginia; and Garland, Texas.

The Sumter plant was owned by Diebold before it was purchased several years ago. The operation has retained Diebold's safe and ATM manufacturing business since the sale.

Patterson said he has already contacted a state employment agency to help facilitate the transition for affected employees. An agency will be coming to the Sumter facility next week to conduct workshops on resume writing and other items. Patterson said Porter's Group is also researching possible federal application forms to try to offer employees any additional assistance because the product is being outsourced overseas.

Patterson said his primary focus is keeping the Sumter facility operational at this time.

"Our intention is to keep the Sumter facility open and try to grow the business back over time with a different customer base when it comes back," Patterson said.