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Downturn comes to Detroit Lakes

Lakeshirts employees pose for a group photo last summer back when economic conditions were better. Lakeshirts laid off workers in October in response to a downturn

The economic recession has hurt some area manufacturers more than others.

While a few are hunkering down without resorting to layoffs, other companies have cut their staffs dramatically.

Standex, a division of Snappy, in Detroit Lakes cut about 40 percent of its staff recently.

"We currently laid off 63 of our staff," said Standex plant manager Bob Schmitt.

Other measures taken by Standex to save money include moving workers to a 4-day, 32-hour workweek.

"We're going to stay with that," Schmitt said.

While the cuts have affected assembly line workers the most, some cuts involved managers and office staff.

"These are unprecedented times," Schmitt said.

Lakeshirts has also cut back, said co-founder Mark Fritz.

Fritz said the company had to resort to layoffs in October. He declined to reveal how many people Lakeshirts laid off.

In tough economic times, Fritz said that the products that Lakeshirts sells aren't considered essential, so they might be one of the extras that consumers take off of their shopping list to save money.

"We're selling discretionary items," Fritz said.

Other manufactures hit by the rough economic times include TEAM Industries, which announced substantial layoffs to its Park Rapids plant last week. TEAM-Bagley will also lose workers.

The company expects to cut 220 jobs in Minnesota over the next four months.

BTD Manufacturing said that while times are tough, they haven't had to lay off any workers.

"We've been fortunate in that we haven't had to have any layoffs," said Dave Welte, vice president of finance for BTD Manufacturing.

Welte said that BTD isn't in an active recruiting mode, though.

Hiring, he said, is based on what the company needs from time to time.

"We're always on the look for those with certain skill sets," Welte said.

Another sign of BTD Manufacturing bucking the trend companies slowing down was a shorter furlough during the holiday season.

"We usually shut down for a couple of weeks," Welte said. "Usually one to two weeks in past years. This year, we shut down for less."

The big help to BTD Manufacturing is a strong agricultural market.

"A lot of our growth has come from agriculture," Welte said. "It remains strong."