5/20/2009 10:05:03 AM
Post-Bulletin, Rochester MN
A Rochester company that makes saws and other equipment for the construction industry is fading away, along with almost 40 jobs.
The Koskovich Co. was founded by inventor Jerry Koskovich in 1973. In 1985, he introduced a fully automated saw for the construction of roof trusses, and later he brought the same innovation to jigging equipment.
Today, only a handful of the 39 employees who worked at Koskovich at the start of last year remain, and they will be gone by the end of 2009.
"It really is depressing," said general manager Jim McKeon as he walks the empty halls of the building at 3111 19th St. N.W. that Koskovich only moved into two years ago.
The collapse of the home construction industry cut deeply into sales at the company, which developed and sold $300,000 machines around the world, he said. To make it worse, several large truss manufacturers were bought up and then closed recently.
"The market is flooded with machinery that is being sold at auction for much less than a new saw," said McKeon.
The decision came down from Koskovich's corporate parent -- Berkshire Hathaway -- to shut down the Rochester operation and fold the Koskovich products into St. Louis-based MiTek Industries.
Koskovich sold his company to MiTek in 2005, and MiTek is owned by Berkshire Hathaway, controlled by investor Warren Buffett.
The cuts started in November 2008, followed by rounds in April of this year and another one at the end of this month. McKeon describes the jobs being lost as primarily engineering and technicians along with accountants and office personnel.
"When you let people go, you know how hard it will be for them to get another a job now. It is like repeated deaths in the family," McKeon said.
After five years with Koskovich as an accountant, Bruce Johnston of Stewartville is anticipating his last day on the job next week.
"I wasn't surprised; still it was a shock when it happened. You never think you'll be a statistic," said Johnston, who's looking for a new job.
T.E.C. Industrial Inc. is feeling the impact of the Koskovich closing. Koskovich helped spur T.E.C.'s growth the past 30 years, said Bob Perry, one of the T.E.C. owners. T.E.C. provides machining, design and repair work, among other things.
"It is sad," he said, " to see a local company leave town."Related Links
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