Workers feel pinch of housing slump

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, October 17, 2007

We’ve all seen the news on national television networks, or online or nationally syndicated newspapers and periodicals.

There’s a lot of bad news &uot;out there,&uot; wherever that is.

We’ve recently been subjected to over-the-counter drug recalls, rising gas prices that we all must face, and any number of stories.

But once in awhile a seemingly distant story hits home, and hard.

On Thursday, Franklin’s ATC Panels, which manufactures particleboard as well other building materials, issued a press release stating that two-thirds of its employees — 90 people — are being laid off because the housing market has taken a sharp decline.

The downward spiral of the housing industry is normally one of those distant stories that affects those trying to buy or sell a house, and those involved in that process.

On Thursday, however, we were delivered a tough reminder that others feel the strong pinch when an industry tightens its finances.

Gonzalo Zegers, executive director and CEO of ATC Panels, was quoted in the press release:

&uot;2007 has been a very challenging year for the composite panels industry. Market demand has weakened due to the declining housing market, while raw material costs continue to rise. These factors have had a profound impact on the entire industry and, in fact, many other particleboard producers have already taken this type of action.&uot;

&uot;We are confident that this is a temporary situation and have every intention of restarting particleboard operations at our Franklin plant as soon as market conditions permit.&uot;

Our thoughts and best wishes go out the affected employees. We hope it is, indeed, temporary.