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Former Titan Machinery employee speaks out after layoff

By Jordan Moore, KTVM Reporter, jmoore@ktvm.com
Published On: Apr 10 2014 06:48:27 PM MDT
Updated On: Apr 10 2014 06:55:46 PM MDT
BOZEMAN, Mont. -

North Dakota-based Titan Machinery blames the slow recovery of the construction economy for abruptly shutting down several Montana stores. The closure puts around 35 Montanans out of work.

NBC was initially at Titan Machinery Wednesday evening after a viewer tipped us off. Employees and managers told us they were given just 3 hours notice that Wednesday would be their last day.

Thursday morning Titan Machinery announced it shut down eight stores across the U.S., including locations in Bozeman, Big Sky, and Helena. According to the company's press release 128 total positions were cut; that is about 4.5 percent of their workforce.

Chuck Dull is the VP of the construction division for Titan Machinery. He works out of North Dakota, but was in Bozeman Thursday. Dull explained what leads to decisions like they made yesterday, closing multiple locations.

"We really look at a number of critical items. One of those being what positions our organization for a future and future growth within the organization, how we can be sustainable on a long-term basis, and how do we best serve our customers in markets we are in, so that was one of the things that leads up to the decision when you start to look at where stores are under-performing," said Dull.

Dull also mentioned that by April 25, they expect to be completely done with the Bozeman location. They will then work to consolidate their services out of the locations that remain open in Missoula, Great Falls, and Billings.

Thursday we spoke to one man who was laid off from Titan Machinery on Wednesday. James Lambert spoke out less than 24 hours after discovering he is out of work. We caught up with him right outside of the front gates where he used to drive into work every day.

Lambert was in the middle of an afternoon run, and still upset over Wednesday's news.

"I thought it was just going to be something where they were going to say we were going to get rid of smaller equipment," said Lambert.

Instead, workers found out out the bosses were getting rid of them.

"The first thing that came out of the vice president's mouth was, 'I have the sheriff's department out here because we have to do that,'" said Lambert.  

Lambert is upset about the short notice. He tells us after a large group meeting, they each had individual meetings to discuss severance packages.

"They went over our severance packages with us, after taxes probably around $8,000," said Lambert.

Lambert says the severance paycheck will only last him two months and has already hit the ground running looking for jobs.

We headed to Bozeman Job Service, to find out how they can help people like Lambert. Lisa Crooks has worked there for 11 years, and tells us the first step is finding out what the job seeker is actually looking for.

"We sit down with them, we talk to them, we like to go through the resources we have here in the valley," said Crooks.

There are currently 700 jobs available through Bozeman Job Service, and Crooks says 60 of those fall under the area of construction, the exact kind of jobs Lambert is looking for.

We also wanted to know more about what the property could be used for once Titan Machinery is gone. The building is located off Shire Trail, near Four Corners.

Sean O'Callaghan is the Planning Director for Gallatin County and explained to us the property is zoned for mixed use. The list of a mix of commercial and residential options includes things like health and exercise centers, campgrounds, community centers and restaurants. O'Callaghan tells us it is hard to predict what could come next.

"In terms of getting approval for a new use on that property, someone would have to come to us and we would look at the zoning regulation, and if the use is something that is allowed with just administrative approval, its a pretty straightforward and easy process," said O'Callaghan.