One of Putnam County's largest employers cut over a fifth of its workforce Thursday.
Dixie Chopper let go 30 of its 160 employees -- some of whom worked at the company's Greencastle location and some of whom were from its Fillmore plant, a release issued by the company Friday said.
"Caught in an industry-wide downturn due to soaring gasoline prices and economic woes, Dixie Chopper regrettably has had to announce a workforce reduction," the release said.
Tammy Parker, vice president of administration at Dixie Chopper, said cuts were made in all departments. She said the cuts were a "horrible thing," and noted that all Dixie Chopper's employees are "great people."
Dixie Chopper general manager Jeff Haltom held meetings with employees in both plants Thursday to explain the situation to them. Haltom called the staff reduction "a business decision that we had to make."
"Unfortunately, we had to let a few people go," Haltom said in a written statement. "But we're still building lawn mowers and shipping orders."
The release said Dixie Chopper's "economic landscape" was altered considerably by rising gas prices. Haltom said in his statement that Dixie Chopper will "get back to basics."
"Dixie's sales were actually ahead of projections heading into May," the release said. "But the perfect storm of rising gas prices, economic issues and a late-arriving spring caused May sales to fall off. June sales have seen a similar effect, necessitating the personnel moves made on Thursday afternoon."
Haltom said the continued production of lawn mowers at the current rate "would only compound the problem with existing models still in the warehouse." He predicted that slowing production now would be beneficial for the company's future.
The first Dixie Chopper lawnmower was manufactured in 1980. More than 100,000 Dixie Choppers are in use throughout the United States and Canada, and all have been manufactured and assembled in Putnam County.