Gates won’t add summer employees

By RICHARD LUKEN
Register Reporter

Gates Corporation, traditionally one of Iola’s biggest employers of temporary summmer workers, will not hire additional hands this year because of the sluggish economy.
Mark Cooper, manager of the Gates plant in Iola, said the company is still waiting for demand to increase before bringing back any employees the company laid off earlier this year.
Gates has laid off more than 120 employees since the start of the year, a stark contrast to the first half of 2008, Cooper noted.
“We were extremely busy last summer, to the point that we probably had to hire more summer employees than usual,” he said. “The slowdown seemed to hit us later than everybody else. It’s still pretty slow but demand will come back at some point.”
Gates has 360 full-time employees. Counting temporary workers, the Iola plant had a workforce of 670 last July.
Gates is also taking advantage of a plantwide “work share” agreement, in which employees work fewer hours and have their incomes supplemented with unemployment benefits provided by the state.