Worries Rise as Layoffs Hit Home

The Register Guard (Eugene, OR), November 12, 2008 | Go to article overview

Worries Rise as Layoffs Hit Home


Byline: GUEST VIEWPOINT By Shaun O'Dell For The Register-Guard

After working as a mechanic in Junction City for 27 years, my father has lost his job. On the morning of Nov. 4 at Gibson Motor Company, all employees were asked to pack up their things and leave.

Frank Knox, the owner and president of Gibson, stood by in the company's upstairs break room watching the last employee meeting with tears in his eyes. He would live to see the loss of a treasured family business - a heartbreaking experience for anybody who has to go through it.

My father, Kevin O'Dell, has known Frank and his son, Matt Knox, as fine people who were great to work for. I also was fortunate enough to work for them the summer before my senior year at Southern Oregon University. The job they gave me allowed me to make enough money to pay my tuition, and gave me a chance to hang out with my dad during the slow times and during lunch.

The Gibson Motor Company had been in business since 1921 and was one of the oldest businesses in Junction City. It always had been a smaller shop and dealership with a loyal staff of mechanics and body shop workers, some of whom worked there more than 30 years.

Over these past few years, when I've asked my dad how work has been going out at the shop, he usually reported fewer jobs every time we spoke. The trend in America is towards more economical cars, and Ford always has based its sales on the truck and sport utility vehicle market.

With the cost of gas so high, fewer people are buying Fords. With fewer Ford vehicles on the road, my dad had less work to do.

For my entire life, I've been allowed to walk into the shop at Gibson and amble into my father's work stall, shake his greasy hand and give him a hug. Most of my life, I've known many of the people at the shop as family friends. Each of the mechanics I've become acquainted with have markedly distinct personalities. They all seem like such authentic characters who just want to do the steady jobs they have learned to love and perform so well. …

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