• John McGary, Woodford Sun News Editor

Ledvance job losses began years ago

When local leaders learned last week that Ledvance would close its fluorescent lamp plant in Versailles next year, they were curious about a related matter: why the company had “only” 360 workers.

The 2018 Comprehensive Plan issued by the Versailles-Midway-Woodford County Planning Commission, relying on statistics compiled two years before by two state industry groups, showed the company employed 571.

Versailles Mayor Brian Traugott and Woodford Economic Development Authority Chair John Soper both told the Sun they had thought Ledvance still had more than 500 workers.

In a Dec. 4 statement, the company announced that diminished demand for fluorescent tubes, light bulbs and flood lights made at the lamp plant led to the decision to close the facility by the end of next September. The move will cost 260 people their jobs, but the company’s decision to keep its R & D lab and Midwest distribution center in Versailles will, for a time, anyway, preserve the jobs of 100 employees.

The company did not make employees available for interviews, but in another statement, Glen Gracia, their head of communications, addressed the apparent drop of more than 200 workers.

“While I don’t have details about the survey you mentioned, I can confirm that given the market decline for the products made at the Versailles plant, we have needed to make adjustments to our workforce throughout the years,” Gracia wrote.

He also answered a question about whether all 260 workers would be let go at once, or piecemeal. “ … the majority of employees will be needed until the end of September due to production needs right up to the end of September. Employees will be notified at least 60 days in advance of their last day of work,” Gracia wrote.

Asked whether the trade war between the U.S., China and other nations was a factor in the Chinese-owned company’s decision to close the Versailles lamp plant, Gracia wrote, “No. The traditional market has been in decline for several years now which has led to this decision.”

Tuesday morning, Traugott told the Sun he was encouraged that the company will cooperate on plans to repurpose the manufacturing building after it closes.

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