Dixie Chopper fully intends to call back workers by early 2014

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

FILLMORE -- Reluctantly, Dixie Chopper has temporarily laid off some of its employees as of Monday.

"The decision was not an easy decision but it was necessary for the continued success of the company," Chief Financial Officer (CFO) Bradley M. Craig said in a prepared statement provided to the Banner Graphic.

"The doors at Dixie Chopper are open and will remain open," he added.

Dixie Chopper has every intention of calling back as many of the affected employees during the beginning of 2014, company officials said

Specific numbers laid off were not disclosed.

The layoffs have come as the Dixie Chopper management team, which was put in place back in June, is reorganizing the company "to ensure a strong financial position in the marketplace, optimal production levels, reduced overhead costs, and a streamlined shipping process."

The new management team is composed of company founder Art Evans as chairman of the board, Wes Evans as president and chief executive officer (CEO), Jeff Haltom as vice president, Bradley Craig as CFO and Greg Fernandez as vice president of administration.

Company founder Art Evans, who built the first of Dixie Chopper's zero-turning-radius lawnmowers in an old dairy barn on his parents' property north of Fillmore in 1980, is delighted to let everyone know that the "city slickers are out of town" and that the company is "getting back to its roots."

Those roots run deep locally and include producing commercial and residential zero-turn mowers designed to outlast the competition.

To date, every Dixie Chopper mower ever built has been assembled in Putnam County -- either at the longtime factory outside Fillmore or for a short time in the former Mallory plant in Greencastle that was razed in April 2011, two years after production was transferred back to Fillmore from that facility.

Meanwhile, in related news, Dixie Chopper has announced the release of a new stand-on mower, The Stryker, which was recently unveiled at the Green Industry Expo (GIE) show in Louisville, Ky.

The Stryker stand-on received a lot of attention for its durability and state-of-the-"Art" handling.

Dixie Chopper plans to begin production on The Stryker stand-on in early spring as the homegrown Putnam County company focuses on continuing to bring new, innovative ideas to the marketplace.

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  • This is press release written by the fine folks left at DC. I will believe it when it happens. Perhaps they should have spent less money on motorcycles and truck pulls and concentrated on the business of making mowers amd money. I not at all surprised they laid off all hourly employees. Those of them left will get a good bonus this year.

    -- Posted by dcsaiht on Tue, Nov 19, 2013, at 9:14 PM
  • The " City Slickers" are gone - who hired them in the first place? That's right - they did. The new mower " got a lot of attention for durability"- how can it have a durability record if it is new? Shame on the banner for not doing any real newspaper work and research. Eric worked there, he should know better.

    -- Posted by Ed46135 on Wed, Nov 20, 2013, at 6:31 AM
  • You don't know how many were laid off? Did you ask? Did they refuse to answer? Did you contact Indiana Department of Workforce Development to see what was reported to them? Is this really a news gathering organization?

    -- Posted by jorge on Wed, Nov 20, 2013, at 11:22 AM
  • It's called a Press Release.

    -- Posted by raisingcaine1 on Wed, Nov 20, 2013, at 11:31 AM
  • Clearly, not all of this story was copied as a press release. I heard that 75 people were laid off. Seems odd though, that the new management structure put in place in June would wait until a week before the holiday season to lay off these unfortunate workers. Maybe foresight is not the management team's strong suit, and being reactive to negative cash flow is.

    -- Posted by Vernie1 on Wed, Nov 20, 2013, at 9:27 PM
  • I have learned though the years when someone says they "fully intend" to do something, there's about a 50% chance it will happen. The beginning of 2014 is about 6 weeks away, we'll see how many are called back then.

    -- Posted by Ben Dover on Thu, Nov 21, 2013, at 8:10 AM
  • Please reference the user name as I am joining the rest of you experts that know everything. That company has been aroung for 30+ years and employing several of the folks in Putnam county. Giving them the opportunity make a living and to provide for their families. Now that the Company is needing the support of the community, everyone is quick to turn and bash them? Shame on those of you that do! Also, for those of you that have all of the answers, perhaps you should contact the Evans family to provide your knowledge instead of blogging on a news site

    -- Posted by another expert on Thu, Nov 21, 2013, at 12:38 PM
  • It is unfortunate for the workers of this company. I have to say that the business practices of this company are appalling. They have not and will not pay their suppliers. I am one of them and I am certain I will not do business with them ever again. They owe my company over $50,000 and basically told me they did not care.


    -- Posted by dixiechoppersupplier on Thu, Nov 21, 2013, at 3:21 PM
  • I wish all the fine folks at Dixie the best especially the workers who are uncertain of their future. Dixie stop building too many of things like 4wd, classic T and W's that are not proven. get someone who is an expert to help you make better choices. you were once the leader in the industry you sat back and allowed the industry to pass you by. focus or get obsoleted

    -- Posted by mowwithscagitsthebest on Thu, Nov 21, 2013, at 6:57 PM
  • Dixie Chopper was doing a very profitable business until the end of June. Dixie chopper had made mistakes over the past 10 years, laying off bunches of loyal workers in the past. The profit of this successful year was being used to pay for those mistakes.... But the "family" wanted that money in their pockets! In June they terminated the true professionals that we're bringing this company to success, so the "family" could put the money in their pockets! The family brought in a firm called Conway Mackenzie ( Google them ) . They stopped paying suppliers, they stopped paying their top sales people commissions and bonuses. They terminated them,,, defaulting on payments of up to $28,000, calling the compensation program "alleged". It's laughable they say they follow the "Art Evans seven principles of business", it must be something different than what is written on their trailers.... Dig deep Banner and follow the money,,,,you'll find out what is really going on!

    -- Posted by Truth be told again on Fri, Nov 22, 2013, at 7:46 AM
  • Who knows if any of the above comments are true? And if so, what does it matter. This is a family owned business and they will always do what is best for "the family". Completely my opinion. Don't work there anymore and quite frankly dont care. I do feel bad for the guys that where laid off though, my SIL included. Praying for the best!

    -- Posted by donna.ford10 on Sun, Nov 24, 2013, at 12:33 AM
  • my guess is this is a critical time for Dixie. the fact that they are laying off is an indication they are not seeing strong orders from dealers. (my dealer is ordering heavy on scag mowers, nothing for Dixie)I think over the past few years Dixie got a little aggressive with pumping product onto dealers floors. now the dealers are busting at the seams with mowers they cant sell. who is going to pay for the mowers just sitting on dealers floors. Hmmmm inventory is an expensive thing in any business especially if you don't have a hope of selling it. So no matter what they do the old inventory is either going to break the dealers or Dixie or maybe both. my old dealer is concerned he will get stuck holding the bag if Dixie doesn't do something to help.

    -- Posted by mowwithscagitsthebest on Sun, Nov 24, 2013, at 12:20 PM
  • Truth be told again* is absolutely clueless to what's really going on. The "Professionals" that were terminated in June were slowly destroying the company. The "profits" of this year were paying off all of THEIR mistakes. The family took the company back under their control and have been working 16 hour days to make it right. In order to continue operation and get through this hard time, workers had to be laid off. If you think the family is stuffing their pockets for personal gain, you're dead wrong.

    Wes is the most honest person with more integrity than anyone I know. His heart aches for the employees who were let go, and he DOES have every intention of bringing back as many of them as possible when the time comes.

    Dixie Chopper has employed thousands of Putnam Country residents and supported several charities and community events through the years. It's a shame that so many people are criticizing the company for trying to keep their doors open.

    -- Posted by NewsExpert on Mon, Nov 25, 2013, at 9:53 AM
  • @dixiechoppersupplier - unfortunately you should consider yourself lucky if they only owe you $50k. There are others that are owed far more than that. Way more.

    I am also certain that the "family" is not lining their pockets. There's nothing to line their pockets with. The bucket is empty. The only thing they have is a brand and some finished goods inventory that isn't selling.

    My best guess is that the ownership is using this time to evaluate their options which includes filing for bankruptcy protection or selling the whole thing. However, any potential buyer would force Magic Circle into bankruptcy to reorganize the debt (ie clear out their a/r balances), and then the potential buyer would purchase what's left over...the brand.

    -- Posted by in.the.know on Wed, Dec 4, 2013, at 6:15 PM
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