141 lose jobs after Semco Windows and Doors in Merrill closes

By Jalen Maki

Tomahawk Leader Co-Editor

MERRILL – 141 people lost their jobs after the Semco Windows and Doors facilities in Merrill were abruptly shut down on Dec. 31, 2019.

According to a letter to employees from company president Patrick L. Semling dated Monday, Dec. 30, Semling Menke Company, Inc. will be permanently closing its facilities located at 605 N. Ohio St. and 410 Douglas St. in Merrill due to “the company’s inability to obtain further financing, the lack of orders, insufficient cash, and the inability to sell the Company.”

“The Company has been pursuing additional financing to stay operating in Merrill but has been unsuccessful and was unable to provide any notice until now,” the letter continues.

“We are saddened and disappointed to hear the news that Semco Windows and Doors has permanently closed its facilities in Merrill,” Rep. Mary Felzkowski (R-Irma) and Senator Tom Tiffany (R-Minocqua) said in a statement from Thursday, Jan. 2. “Our thoughts are with the hard-working employees who now find themselves in an extremely difficult situation. This uncertainty is stressful for these families, and we must come together to take care of our neighbors.”

Felzkowski and Tiffany stated they sent a letter to Governor Tony Evers and the Department of Workforce Development (DWD) requesting that all resources within the administration are deployed to assist impacted employees and the community.

“We will work with state and local officials and economic development agencies to assist in facilitating this process to ensure it is as smooth as possible for everyone affected. Please reach out to our offices, and we will connect you with the resources you need,” they said.

In an email from Jan. 2 regarding the closing, DWD said the department and its regional partner, the North Central Workforce Development Board, will offer rapid response services to the company and the affected workers. DWD also provided information about its Dislocated Worker Program.

“The Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development (DWD) Dislocated Worker Program provides transition assistance to workers and companies affected by permanent worker layoffs,” the email said. “The Program’s local Rapid Response Teams help companies and worker representatives develop and implement a practical transition plan based on the size of the layoff event.”

Types of services include pre-layoff workshops on a variety of topics such as resume writing and interviewing, job search strategies, and budgeting; provision of information about programs and resources through written materials and information sessions; and career and resource fairs, DWD stated.

“Workers affected by permanent layoff may also access basic re-employment services at no charge through the state’s Job Centers,” DWD said. “Some services, including training assistance, may be an option for some workers after enrolling in one or more of DWD’s workforce development programs. While all companies faced with permanent worker layoffs are encouraged to seek assistance from the local Rapid Response Teams, some companies may be required to give 60 days notice before a mass layoff or closing under federal and/or state law.

More information about advance notice requirements is available at https://dwd.wisconsin.gov/dislocatedworker/.

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