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Andersen downsizes Menomonie workforce; 52 jobs eliminated

Fifty-two workers at Andersen Corporation's Menomonie assembly plant were told today their jobs have been eliminated and were sent home.

The plant currently had 245 employees and had a workforce of about 275 at its peak.

The jobs that were cut were production workers and office support staff.

"We've taken the cuts we need to take for now, based on what we know," said Maureen McDonough, Andersen's director of corporate communications. She said no jobs are being eliminated at the company's Bayport, Minn., plant.

McDonough said the Menonomie facility makes windows specifically designed for large production builders who build new, mid-range priced homes.

"They're simply not building right now," she said of the segment of the home construction market.

New housing starts have declined from well over 2 million in 2005 to about 800,000 in 2008, and industry experts are forecasting a further decline of 9-15% in 2009 for new construction, said McDonough.

"Companies that were building hundreds and even thousands of homes in this price category just a few years ago continue to deal with excess inventory of unsold homes," she said. "Because of these factors, Andersen is in a position where we have more capacity to produce this product than we need for the foreseeable future."

"We really want them to focus on their future," said McDonough of the decision to end the workers' employment immediately.

She said they will receive two weeks' pay along with a severance package, but said the company considers the details of the packages confidential information.

"This workforce reduction is not a reflection of our employees in Menomonie or the community, but is based on current market realities," said McDonough. "We must protect the long-term sustainability of the entire Andersen operation."

In 2007, early in the housing market slump, Andersen laid off 40 workers at the Menomonie plant and 400 at the Bayport plant.

McDonough said Andersen has 22 plants nationwide and announced two weeks ago that it will close its plant in Durham, N.C., and lay off 450 workers there.