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160 La-Z-Boy employees get pink slips

By By Steve Swogetinsky/The Meridian Star
July 21, 2001
NEWTON Blaming a weak economy and poor sales in the retail furniture market, La-Z-Boy South officials announced the layoff of 160 people Friday.
The labor force reduction affects employees at the Newton assembly plant, but not at the Newton supply centers. The layoffs took effect immediately, according to Dan Breeding, general manager of La-Z-Boy South.
The work force at the assembly plant and supply centers now numbers 1,130.
La-Z-Boy officials had hoped over the last several months that natural attrition would reduce the work force.
La-Z-Boy South is a division of La-Z-Boy Inc. of Monroe, Mich., which has operated a manufacturing plant in Newton since 1962. The plant makes upholstered reclining chairs. La-Z-Boy operates 55 manufacturing plants in 10 states and four foreign countries.
Until recently, business had been good for the company. According to wire reports, sales at La-Z-Boy have jumped from $1 billion in fiscal 1997 to $2.26 billion in 2001 a 126 percent increase. Profits climbed from $45.3 million in 1997 to $87.61 million in 2000, before dropping off to $68.34 million in 2001 as a result of the downturn in the nation's economy.
Steve Swogetinsky is regional editor of The Meridian Star. Call him at 693-1551, ext. 3217, or e-mail him at sswogetinsky@themeridianstar.com.