Selway sees layoffs, reduced hours


STEVENSVILLE, Mont. - Ravalli County's largest private employer is temporarily reducing hours for the majority of its employees and laying off others.

NBC Montana went to Stevensville to get a rundown of what it means for the employee-owned Selway Corporation.

The hours for 99 of Selway's 120 employees will be cut in half. Eleven are laid off with the full intention of bringing them back again. That's expected to be in late January. Ten employees are still full-time.

The average annual wage of a Selway employee is $51,500. The company's annual payroll is $6.5 million.

Selway started 40 years ago doing steel fabrication for resource industries like mining projects in Colstrip. But timber, aluminum, hard rock mining and coal mining have declined or disappeared.

Most of Selway's current work is on hydro projects with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

Operations manager Randy Osgood showed NBC Montana huge piping that workers were busy with Tuesday morning.

It will be used to divert water from Oregon's The Dalles Dam onto a ladder for salmon.

"We've tried to pick up this additional business and we're very good at it," said Osgood. "We got awarded a lot of the contracts but there just aren't as many out there as we would like."

Osgood said Selway is working to secure government and private contracts in the next couple months. But he said it takes time.

In the meantime workloads are cut in half.

"That is to extend the amount of work that we have," said Osgood, "to keep people working as long as possible."

Selway said since it's been seeing a decline in resource jobs, especially in coal for the past eight years.

Foreman Michael Bledsoe said it's been a "struggle."

"It's been slow for a while now," he said. "Our economy needs to pick up."

Many Selway workers are happy to keep working even if hours are reduced.

But with Christmas a month away the layoffs and reduced hours will probably mean a tighter budget for the holidays.

"We used to work full time and over time," said welder Joe Nicol, "Now we're two days a week, 10 hours a day."

President-elect Donald Trump's proposal to infuse money into the country's infrastructure and the use of coal is welcome news for many at Selway.

Osgood said Selway is trying to get a financial guarantee through employee-owned assets in the company to secure banking needs.

The company met with Stevensville legislators asking them to help work on ways to secure the guarantee.