DECATUR – A plan to reshape the corporate structure of Archer Daniels Midland Co. moved ahead Tuesday with its headquarters in Decatur bearing the brunt of job cuts.
ADM plans to eliminate 1,000 jobs throughout the company. To reach that goal, the company said it cut 175 mostly salaried positions in Decatur. The layoffs went into effect immediately.
ADM spokesman David Weintraub said the number could have been higher, but 160 employees based in Decatur, along with others elsewhere, accepted a voluntary early retirement incentive that was offered in January to those in the United States who met specified criteria.
The eliminated positions represent less than 4 percent of the Decatur work force, Weintraub said.
“We consider that a high acceptance of early retirement,” he said. “It’s people who opted to take the incentive we offered. It reduced the number of people we had to involuntarily let go.”
Weintraub did not specify what other ADM operations would be affected by the reductions, but job cuts in double digits took place in only two other communities. About 30 jobs in Clinton, Iowa, were reported to have been among those eliminated both voluntarily and through layoffs.
Weintraub said the job cuts represent a variety of positions as the company aims to streamline its organizational structure and save nearly $100 million in the coming months.
ADM’s corporate earnings fell 89 percent to $80 million in its fiscal year second quarter, which ended Dec. 31, or two weeks before the restructuring plan was announced. ADM has faced volatility in the global crop market, which has affected its recent earnings.
The company decided on the number of job cuts after figuring out who took the voluntary retirement offer in early February. Those who accepted the early retirement offer have worked with the company to determine a date between the end of this month and end of February next year to leave ADM and not leave needed positions open, Weintraub said.
“We looked at how to reshape the organization with those people gone and get to our worldwide target,” he said. “This is about the organization.”
On top of the restructuring efforts, ADM has recently announced facility changes in other states, including closing an ethanol plant in North Dakota, a plastics plant in Clinton, Iowa, and a sorghum mill in Texas to bring the total number of positions eliminated worldwide to more than 1,200, Weintraub said.
The local job reductions are a blow to economic development efforts, but city officials remain optimistic Decatur can recover effectively.
“Decatur has been down before, and Decatur has been down probably a little worse than this,” Mayor Mike McElroy said. “We come back. That’s what we do here.”
Trying to find those who have lost their jobs new work is the first goal for city leaders and ADM.
The company plans to meet with affected employees individually to share information about support available in the transition process, Weintraub said.
Career, life-transition and financial planning services are being offered, along with a severance package, he said. The company will be holding career fairs in the coming weeks as a way to help search for jobs with other employers in Decatur and surrounding areas. It will offer online assistance for those in other areas, Weintraub said.
ADM next week will open an outplacement services center equipped with computer workstations, phones and meeting rooms. Onsite staff will provide coaching and assistance for conducting job searches, building resumés and preparing for job interviews.
McElroy said he is happy with ADM’s assistance.
“I appreciate their efforts, but, of course, my appreciation doesn’t get anyone a job,” McElroy said. “You’ve got to start somewhere. Hopefully, we can pull together and do the best we can to bring normalcy back to Decatur.”
Recent labor studies have indicated that local employers have seen a shortage of skilled talent available in the work force, said Craig Coil, president of the Economic Development Corporation of Decatur and Macon County.
“Maybe this will provide an opportunity for some of our existing employers to pick up some really good people and let them help their businesses as well,” Coil said. “It’s going to depend on their skill sets and the talents they have that they can bring to another employer. We know there are vacant positions around the community.”
Coil said his group plans to coordinate with other organizations to identify opportunities that exist to help match workers with jobs.
“If they were hired by a major corporation like ADM, they have a lot to bring to the table,” Coil said. “We hope, as difficult as it is for the folks affected by this to deal with it today, that in the long run, it is going to work out fairly well for everyone.”
Richland Community College officials are monitoring the situation to see what type of assistance it and its partners might be able to provide students looking to improve their employment prospects, said Lisa Gregory, executive director of public information.
Despite its recent difficulties, McElroy said ADM remains an important corporate partner for the city. Taking care of existing businesses can help, as McElroy has seen other companies in similar situations recover.
“That is how the economy has made our business climate,” McElroy said. “We’ve got to play the game the best we possibly can and make Decatur as appealing as we possibly can to new business and to our existing businesses. We have to take care of what we can with them and show our appreciation to what they have brought to the city.”