AmeriPumps lays off workers

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By Christopher Brooke, Reporter

HILLSVILLE — AmeriPumps, with about five months of inventory ready to go, has laid off about half the employees at its Hillsville location in the wake of the ongoing recession.

Partner Don Branscome believes that the company will still get up to full capacity — but only after the economy improves.

"Construction is going good," he said. "The pump business is not going so good right now because of the economy."

Dealers have put off buying the portable industrial water pumps — used mainly in construction and flood recovery — until things stabilize, he explained. Businesses are putting off large investments in general.

AmeriPumps has sold six pumps recently and has more orders, but the company has plenty of inventory ready to meet the demand.

"We've got $5 million in inventory ready to go out, so we can handle them for a while," Branscome said.

In general, people believe that the economy won't improve until the fourth quarter of 2009.

With these considerations in mind, AmeriPumps laid off about half of its workers, seven people.

Branscome said all but two of those were offered work in construction at his other company, DLB.

He expects it would be at least 60 days before the employees can go back to work at AmeriPumps.

"I ain't went through an economy like this," he said. Nor has he seen the government take such steps as moving to bail out car companies.

But multiple construction projects are planned in the region, and DLB will bid on them.

AmeriPumps announced in 2008 that it would bring a total of 125 jobs to Hillsville after relocating from Chattanooga, Tenn., as part of an economic development deal.

Virginia, Carroll County and Hillsville teamed up to provide $400,000 in incentives. In return, AmeriPumps promised to make a $4.6 million capital investment in Carroll.

Branscome says the company will live up to its end of the deal, "but it's going to take longer. Our goals are the same, we've just got to wait through the economy."