COVID-19 forces layoffs at Wildman, Polaris

Wildman Business Group in Warsaw recently laid off 48 employees, which is expected to be temporary, while Polaris Boats LLC in Syracuse is letting over 100 go permanently as its shutting its doors.

According to the Indiana Department of Workforce Development website, Polaris notified the state on Monday of the permanent layoffs in connection with the future closure on July 14.

A letter from Steven Ott, vice president human resources, Polaris Boats, to the state says, in part, the company operates a manufacturing facility in Syracuse “where we have enjoyed a positive relationship with our workforce and our community. Due to unprecedented challenges, our business is currently facing in conjunction with the global coronavirus pandemic, however, we have made the difficult decision to close our Syracuse facility located at 300 W. Chicago St., Syracuse, IN 46567. We anticipate the ultimate plant closure will be effective between July 1, 2020, and July 14, 2020, and we anticipate permanent layoffs in phases in advance of and upon the ultimate closure as described below.”

Polaris is providing a reduced notification period because the plant closing is caused by business circumstances, as described above, that were not reasonably foreseeable as of the time the notice would have been required under the federal Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act, the letter states.

“We plan for the first group of layoffs to occur on April 13, 2020. All impacted employee will be notified individually in writing of his or her anticipated last day. Approximately 10% of the employees will be affected by this initial group of permanent layoffs. In addition, over 100 employees will be permanently laid off in future layoffs prior to the plant closure. This information is based upon the best information available and is being provided pursuant to the Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification (WARN) Act.”

Wildman Business Group notified the state of its layoffs on Friday with layoffs planned for April 6-13.

A letter from Audrey Russell, Wildman director of human resources, to Workforce Development states, “As a result of the unforeseeable, dramatic downturn in business by the coronavirus natural disaster, we are writing to inform you that there will be a mass layoff at the Wildman Business Group, 800 S. Buffalo St., Warsaw, IN on April 6, 2020 – April 13, 2020. This mass layoff is expected to be temporary. The date of the first separation was April 6.

“At this time and based on the information currently available, we anticipate the closure/layoffs will be temporary.”

Her letter also apologizes for not being able to provide more advance notice of the action.

“We are providing this notice as soon as possible in light of the rapidly developing events surrounding COVID-19, which is now recognized as a global pandemic, natural disaster and physical calamity. There are numerous government and health directives impacting our business. The speed and vast impact of COVID-19 has been unprecedented. After reviewing our staffing and business needs, we are providing this notice at the earliest possible time,” the letter states.

The number of employees at Wildman affected include four in administrative; one in IT support; two, manager; 14, production; 10, service; five, inside sales; 11, sales; and one in the warehouse.