FALCONER - Remaining RHI Mono-frax employees will have their hands full for the next few months.
The company announced it would lay off 27 workers in March due to a lull in business, and further enlisted the help of Chautauqua County Executive Vince Horrigan and U.S. Congressman Tom Reed, R-Corning, who announced Monday that he had secured a $1.5 million purchase order from the Department of Energy.
Reed's connection to the DOE could be instrumental in Monofrax's continuation of business, seeing as how the Falconer company provides specialty glass used to line furnaces, refractory sets and containers used by the government to encase radioactive material at cleanup sites.
Reed worked with leaders at the DOE, Monofrax and the local union to secure the minimum $1.5 million order, expected to be finalized this summer. The imminent purchase for refractory sets from Monofrax will be used at the Savannah River Site, a nuclear reservation in South Carolina.
"We are very grateful for the continued efforts by Congressman Tom Reed to help RHI Monofrax secure these projects," said Daryl Clendenen, president of RHI Monofrax. "His presence at our facility on multiple occasions and the work he has done to make this a success clearly show his commitment to this facility and the men and women who work for RHI Monofrax."
Clendenen did not return phone calls regarding the number of employees currently laid off, or expectations for the future.
"It's really exciting to see Reed has been able to convince the DOE to move forward with this order," Horrigan said. "This is essential in our efforts to ensure our businesses and our jobs continue here in Chautauqua County. We need to retain the jobs that we have and grow wherever possible."
Reed said securing the order was very important, and that he would continue to fight to put the local workforce and locally manufactured products in the strongest position possible.
"We want to be as sensitive as possible to care for the needs of our district's businesses," Reed said. "When that means stepping up to the plate to facilitate conversations and press for action, we'll be there to help however we can.
Reed met with Monofrax management and local and regional union leaders at the Falconer plant earlier this year to get a better sense of the company's business model and map out an action plan for the plant's long-term viability.
Monofrax had laid off more than 70 workers out of 170 as of March 25.