CHESTER, Connecticut — Whelen Engineering announced on Thursday it is eliminating 246 jobs at its facilitates in Charlestown, New Hampshire, and Chester, Connecticut. The company says this is in direct response to the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Chester facility will eliminate 98 out of 583 jobs while the facility in New Hampshire will eliminate 148 jobs out of 981.
A statement from Whelen President and CEO George W Whelen V said it was a difficult decision but was the only way to preserve the company after the recession is over.
“COVID-19 has created significant financial constraints and has resulted in a reduction in our product demand," said Whelen. "To preserve our ability to rebuild when this recession is over, we have been forced to make the difficult but unavoidable decision to reduce our workforce.”
The company says it is laying a foundation for a reconstructive phase.
FOX61 reached out to Chester First Selectwoman Lauren S. Gister who says she was informed of the layoffs Friday afternoon. She then said the Town of Chester will support the people who have been laid off, many of whom are neighbors and friends.
"I was officially notified about the layoffs by George Whelen at noon today. Whelen Engineering is a vital part of our town’s economy, and has been generous as a partner to our residents, the municipality, our schools, and local organizations for many years," said Gister. "The stated reason for the layoffs is a restructuring of the business as a direct result of reduced product demand due to COVID-19. The effect on town finances has yet to be determined. There are many variables involved in that analysis, including some that are dependent upon Whelen’s future actions, and I do not expect that we will know the answer to this question for some time. Most importantly, we are deeply concerned about the impact that this action will have on the affected employees of Whelen, a good many of whom are our friends and neighbors. The Town of Chester will be here to support them in any and every way that we can."
Affected employees' last day of work was Friday, July 10.
Whelen Engineering designs and manufactures warning lights, sirens, white illumination lighting, and high powered warning systems for Automotive, Aviation, and Mass Notification companies worldwide.