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Gifts all around with Shop Vac’s exciting news

It was not one gift but two that was delivered to our area on Christmas Eve.

The first gift came with the news that Shop Vac on Reach Road had been purchased and the new owner — GreatStar Tools USA — hoped to rehire former employees who lost their jobs in mid-September after a failed sale of the company by its private owners.

That closure left about 430 people suddenly out of work from a manufacturing facility that had been “a leading employer in our area for generations,” in the words of County Commissioner Scott Metzger.

We agree with Metzger’s assessment that the announcement “is a major boost to our spirits and economy during these difficult times.”

Indeed, officials across the board celebrated the news. Mayor Derek Slaughter said his administration looks forward to working with the new ownership. Jason Fink, president and CEO of the Williamsport-Lycoming Chamber of Commerce, said he looks forward to working with GreatStar in achieving the success the company envisions with the Shop Vac brand.

Our congratulations go out to the chamber for their work in helping to facilitate this sale and ongoing efforts to reopen the plant.

Key to making it work will be rehiring employees, though it’s hard to say how many have found other jobs since September. The chamber, we understand, will continue to work with the new owner in efforts to convince workers to return.

This is a great opportunity for former Shop Vac employees who lost jobs as well as employment opportunities for others with skills in injection molding, tool and die making, and electrical, industrial and polymer engineering — skills that may be found among students being trained at Pennsylvania College of Technology.

While this sounds very promising, we hope that GreatStar will put people back to work on a pay scale competitive with what they had been making and in line with the skills they bring to the table.

While the first gift of renewed hope for the future was made clear on Christmas Eve, the second gift was not revealed until Monday — the potential for further production growth in coming years.

With GreatStar’s portfolio of brands, including Arrow Fastener, Pony, Jorgensen, Goldblatt and Prime-Line Products, we have nothing but high hopes for generations to come at Shop Vac.

We wish the new owners nothing but success as they move to reopen the shuttered plant and revive this American product made here in Williamsport, Pa.

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