LACKAWANNA COUNTY — All 145 Gentex Optics employees in Simpson will lose their jobs this fall.
One the world’s top optical firms, Essilor, runs the factory in Lackawanna County.
Employees were not expecting to hear the bad news.
“Everybody was upset. I’ve been with optics for 20 years, so it’s a big blow,” said Craig Greene, an Optics worker who will be laid off.
The optics portion of Gentex operates in building number 5, but come October 1st, everything will be taken out of the buildings and all 145 employees will be out of a job. One of those employees said he’s just trying to stay positive.
“I think i’m going to take the opportunity and move on and start a new career,” said Greene.
Greene moved to Simpson from Massachusetts in 2008 to further his career with the company that makes eyeglass lenses.
“They had a department here, which was my specialty there, so I was going to help with that and we were going to get better. But six years later, we didn’t get better,” said Greene.
An employee for Gentex Corporation, James Agentovich, which is under different ownership and makes military helmets, said he hopes his company wile hire the laid off optics workers. “I hope gentex, our side, lets them come over where we are. At least they’ll still have a job and still be getting a check, ya know?”
An employee at a nearby mini-mart says the layoffs won’t only affect the workers, but everyone in the area.
Jude Wasileski of A and C market said about 50 Gentex workers come into his shop every day. “Food of course, is not going to be sold as much because there’s not going to be as many people. We’re not going to be selling as much gas because people are not going to be coming down the street to go to work here.”
As for Greene, he said the next few months will be an adjustment period for his family. “It’s going to be tough, I was the only income so now my wife’s got to go to work and I need to find something else to do.”
Greene said Essilor is offering severance pay for employees.
Also, the State Labor Department’s Rapid Response team is planning on-site services for dislocated workers starting in April.
Gentex Corporation will take over the optics building after October 1st. It is unclear if that company plans to hire any laid-off employees.