A century-old steel fabricator in the city’s north side business park may have to lay off some of its 75 employees this spring, as orders for work have slowed down.
Zalk Josephs Fabricators operations manager Nathan Michael told the Hub the firm doesn’t know how many employees will have to be let go, and the company’s backlog should keep everyone employed until May 27.
But with a lack of new orders, the company released a statement saying layoffs could be coming.
The company said the layoffs would be temporary, though when workers would be hired back is unclear.
“We haven’t gotten awarded the things we thought we would,” Michael said. “This isn’t, unfortunately, the first time we’ve had to address this.”
The firm, located at 400 Industrial Circle, has worked on the Shedd Aquarium, Wrigley Field and the framework for the scoreboard at Camp Randall Stadium. It moved to Stoughton in 1976 when its employees built the structure it currently uses as a fabrication shop.
Zalk Josephs, named after its two founders, last went through layoffs like this during the Great Recession, Michael said, though its work on a hospital in Chicago delayed the impact until 2010.
In a statement announcing the layoffs, the company wrote that all wages and agreed-upon benefits will be paid within a week of the layoffs.
“Zalk Josephs truly regrets that these actions are necessary,” the statement reads. “We deeply appreciate the loyalty of our employees and our foremost concern is securing new bookings.”
Michael said there has been a lot of “quote work,” where the firm has been asked to estimate costs for a new job, and from what he’s seen, 2019 should be a strong year.
“There are a couple projects we’re chasing now that if we were to land one of those, there’s still a chance we wouldn’t need to lay anybody off,” Michael said. “We just want to do the right thing by our employees that the potential is out there.”
This isn’t the end of the business, Michael said, stressing the “strong future ahead of us.”
“This is kind of the nature of the business that we’re in,” Michael said. “We have just fantastic employees that understand that a little bit. The company has weathered the storm before.”