Unexpected unemployment was a theme for many local residents this year.
Two long-time businesses went through layoffs, with Can-Filters closing in June and Pacific Insight letting go part of its workforce in October.
Can-Filters, which had operated on the North Shore since 1989, manufactured and sold inline fans and various types of filters.
But the company was bought by multinational garden supply company Hawthorne Gardening in October 2017, and in June it was announced Can-Filters would close, 27 employees would be let go and the building would be sold.
A spokesperson for Scott’s Miracle-Gro, which owns Hawthorne, told the Star in an email that the decision was part of the company’s strategy to invest in cannabis hydroponics.
“Decisions such as these are difficult and are emotional for all involved. We very much appreciate their service and their work and are focused on helping to do what we can to help them make the transition to their next phase.”
Meanwhile, another long-time local company felt the sting of its international owner’s business plans.
Pacific Insight, located on Highway 3A just outside Nelson, designs electronic parts for the automotive industry. Like Can-Filters, Pacific Insight was also purchased by an international company last year when Chicago conglomerate Methode acquired it for approximately $144 million.
When the deal was announced, a Methode spokesperson said it planned to keep all its employees at Pacific Insight. That changed in October when Methode said it was moving production to a facility in Mexico because of changes in the automotive industry.
Methode has not disclosed how many employees were let go, but a source told the Star it was at least half the workforce. The source was also skeptical that Pacific Insight would keep its Nelson building open.
“At least half the machines on the floor will be cleared out of there. I’d say likely more.”
There is still hope for new local employment on the horizon.
Nelson native Greg Malpass is expected to open an office for his tech company Traction on Demand next year in the Legion building, which Malpass has a memorandum of understanding to purchase.
Malpass said he thinks his team of 25 employees will be mostly new hires.
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