Last year the floor at the Valley Screen Process Co. in Mishawaka, Ind., was quiet. There were only a few dozen workers doing the work of 75.
The RV industry was hit hard and suppliers were stuck with months worth of excess inventory, according to WNDU-TV, South Bend.
“We had to tell our staff that we were going to lay them off over the holidays and we really didn’t know if we were going to be able to call them back,” said Valley Stream CEO Karen Barnett.
The RV graphics and decal company laid off 40 workers, including many longtime staffers.
“This is what I love to do, I’ve been doing it for practically half my life,” worker Ed Kurlowicz said. He worked at the factory for 22 years and was let go in September.
Valley Screen is starting to bounce back. Workers are using the machines that once made graphics for RVs to make vehicle wraps, window decals and consumer goods.
The strategy is paying off, over the last few months they rehired nine workers for a new project with the new St. Joseph Regional Medical Center located a few miles away.
They’re printing and installing new window decals for patient rooms to make them aesthetically pleasing.
“We also have some window graphics that we’re doing throughout the whole hospital. We’ve got over 400 windows throughout the hospital that will have a decorated, printed decal applied to them with nature scenes primarily,” said Barnett.
Kurlowicz was one of the workers rehired by the company and was very excited to return to work.
“I had moved back in with my mom and I was living there, and since then I’ve gotten to move back into my apartment and I’m just real happy to be working because this is like family to me,” Kurlowicz said.
Barnett said she is cautiously optimistic for expansion plans.
If the new diversified projects continue to do well, Barnett expects to rehire more workers in early 2010.