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Dick lays off 34 workers

Saturday, October 19, 2002

By Dan Fitzpatrick, Post-Gazette Staff Writer

In its second round of employee cutbacks this year, Dick Corp. has laid off 34 people as part of an ongoing "realignment" at one of the region's largest and oldest construction firms.

Dick President and Chief Executive Officer Denny Watts made the announcement to employees Thursday, attributing the cutbacks to the instability of the energy industry, which Dick pursued in the late 1990s, and a desire to better manage the company's costs. Twenty-four of the 34 layoffs happened in the Pittsburgh area and the others were on the East Coast and Chicago, trimming Dick's worldwide payroll to 886 people, down from 950 earlier in the year.

"This is never an easy decision," Watts said, in a letter to his employees. Saying that every effort was made to reassign people to other parts of the company, he told his employees that "I recognize that no one likes uncertainty when it comes to his or her job security. But, this is a time of transition for Dick Corporation." Watts said his goal was "to have all corporate realignments completed by the end of the year so that we are well positioned for 2003." The good news for Dick is that it has a backlog of projects worth $1.7 billion, the largest such backlog in the company's history. The bad news is that the Large-based company still needs to survive a rocky 2002. Dick is still trying to recover as much as $50 million from work it performed on a 160-acre power plant near Chicago, where Dick's construction partner was failed energy giant Enron Corp. and its client was a now-struggling Minneapolis-based power company called NRG Energy.

Dan Fitzpatrick can be reached at dfitzpatrick@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1752.

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