Oreck Corp. moves an estimated 400 more jobs to Cookeville
Wednesday, Jan 3, 2007
“By the time we get done moving, we should have between 400-500 manufacturing jobs and 100-150 call center jobs in Cookeville,” said Tom Oreck, president and CEO of Oreck. “We’re scheduled to begin the phase-out of our Mississippi plant at the end of February and continue through October 2007. The rate of transition will depend on how quickly TRW moves out of the facility.”
Oreck Corp. entered into a previous agreement to purchase TRW Vehicle Safety Systems’ Cookeville plant for an estimated $10 million. Initially, Oreck will occupy 150,000 square feet until TRW totally vacates the 310,000 square-foot facility. The two companies will coexist for a time as TRW phases out and Oreck phases in.
“We will be occupying the entire TRW facility once the phase-out is complete,” explained Oreck. “We will also be looking for additional space in the area for our refurbishing services and to hold stock.”
Oreck explained that it was not the company’s original intention to move more jobs to Cookeville. In fact, Oreck Corp. was the first plant to reopen on the Gulf Coast 10 days after Hurricane Katrina hit in 2005. Even though manufacturing operations will relocate to Cookeville, Oreck stressed that there are no plans to move the company’s headquarters from its New Orleans location.
“As time went on, the conditions on the coast proved to be too much for our operation,” said Oreck. “Less than 50 percent of our work force returned to us after the hurricane, so we’ve been experiencing a labor shortage in Mississippi. Taken with that is the increased cost and availability of insurance, and the cost of living in general has gone up.”
Some Mississippi employees have been give the option to transfer to Cookeville, however, Oreck said he only expects 50 or so to make the move. Dislocated workers from the planned phase out will receive assistance from Oreck Corp., including job fairs, sessions on resume writing and interviewing, and job placement services.
“We want to work aggressively to help those employees affected by this phase-out,” said Oreck. “We made a commitment to take care of our people. This is a sad event, but from a business standpoint, we are doing what’s right for our business and our people at this time.”
When deciding the move to Cookeville, Oreck said the quality of the local work force played a role.
“The work force in Cookeville is phenomenal,” he added. “They are good people with an outstanding work ethic. Also the people could not be more welcoming. From the chamber to local and state officials, they have done a terrific job of making Oreck feel welcome in the community.
“Oreck is delighted to be in Cookeville, and we will be a good corporate citizen. We are committed to U.S. manufacturing and the American work force.”