Lab Safety in transition

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Sunday, September 6, 2009
— Lab Safety Supply will have about the same number of employees in Janesville a year from now as it has now, but some positions may be cut or transferred even as new ones come to Janesville, a company spokesman said Saturday.

Robb Kristopher of W.W. Grainger, Lab Safety’s parent company, said the previously announced shift of distribution functions from Janesville to Grainger distribution centers on the coasts will mean fewer jobs in Lab Safety’s distribution center, starting in the first half of 2010.

Lab Safety employs more than 900 people in Janesville, the company has said previously.

Kristopher did not know how many positions would be cut from the distribution center, but he said employees could retrain for other openings or follow the work to other distribution centers.

New positions will be related to various brands that Lab Safety has acquired in recent years, such as Highsmith, Ben Meadows, Gempler’s and AW Direct.

The new positions include customer service, marketing and support functions such as finance, Kristopher said.

The specialty brands will continue to supply customers through Janesville or other centers as Grainger converts separate distribution networks into one unified network, Kristopher said.

“We value the role the Janesville facility plays in our network,” Kristopher said in a prepared statement in response to Gazette questions. “As we continue to evaluate how to maximize the Janesville location, we may shift some job functions to and from this facility. For example, distribution-center volume is expected to decrease in 2010 as some of the Specialty Brands inventory will be staged and shipped from West- and East- coast distribution centers to provide customers easier access to products.

“Impacted employees will have opportunities to retrain for added positions in other functional areas or explore distribution-center positions in other areas of the network. An example of job functions moving into Janesville is the recent addition of roughly 30 positions related to our AW Direct brand.”

Kristopher said he could not immediately confirm the number of positions that would be eliminated in the Janesville distribution center, as officials were not reachable on Saturday.

“But the effect to overall headcount should be minimal due to the voluntary transfer to other centers, normal business attrition as well as the retraining of employees …,” he said.

“We have a talented team in Janesville, and they will continue to play a vital role in serving customers of our Specialty Brands,” Kristopher said.

“Most important to note is that 12 months from now we do not expect any significant change—increase or decrease—to the total number of people we employ in Janesville,” he added.

Last updated: 11:26 am Thursday, December 13, 2012

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