Longaberger Announces Seasonal Layoffs

Basket maker Longaberger Co. is making a seasonal cut to its work force and contracting out packaging operations to another Central Ohio company as it sets its course for the new year.

The Newark-based company said Monday that it has laid off 125 workers in its manufacturing division to line up staffing with a traditionally slow post-holiday season. The cuts come after a fourth quarter that met optimistic expectations, fueled by better-than-expected sales of a new football-themed line of products.

Longaberger said it hopes to recall the workers as demand increases throughout the year.

The company on Monday also announced a deal to outsource all packaging operations at its Frazeysburg fulfillment center beginning next week to Exel, a Westerville-based division of Germany-based Deutsche Post DHL. The 100 full-time employees at that facility will be offered jobs with Exel and keep seniority, Longaberger said.

The company has been working over more than a year to cut costs and stay poised for a rebound through new products and deals such as the Exel agreement. The past several years have been challenging for the company, which employed more than 8,000 nearly a decade ago and last year saw payroll drop below 1,500.

Late last year, however, the company hired direct sales veteran Robin Crossman as president and moved to temporarily boost its work force with 50 seasonal recalls.

“Maintaining flexibility with our work force enables us to meet customer needs and maintain a position of financial strength throughout the cyclical nature of our business,” Crossman said in a statement.

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