Are you surprised by Sanford?

Friday, November 14, 2008

A recurring comment heard since Sanford Corp. announced it's closing the pencil factory here is that it's been coming for some time.

Temporary employment service workers were used because the business is seasonal and that was when school starts and parents were buying supplies, the company's spokesman told us.

So while a factory here produces products that normally sell briskly in the fall, Marshall County officials, like others across America, bought computers and related products for the school system, and practically any parent can report that their children are turning in reports, homework and studies that are typed instead of hand written.

Furthermore, kids aren't passing as many written notes between each other in school. They're sending text messages on cell phones.

Technology has taken over, according to one of our friends, so our Monday morning quarterbacks have seen the handwriting on the wall, and they're not surprised.

However, the Sanford plant here manufactured art pencils in a wide variety of colors and there's a lot to be said for real handiwork by artists expressing human feelings in lines, shades of grey and pastel to move the human spirit.

Grease pencils are also made by the few hundred souls who've labored at the plant on Spring Place Road. Computer printer labels may be everywhere, but someone's got to mark a box when it hits the receiving dock.

For some reason plant shutdown announcements seem to come in the fall. Maybe it's an application of industrial psychology, or just the fact that Thanksgiving comes so close to the end of another fiscal year. Still, there are some things for which we should be thankful as that most American of holidays is less than two weeks away.

One of the things we might say grace over is the growing diversity of an industrial base here. Metal work, high tech products, cardboard boxes, printing, auto manufacturing supply parts, tank refurbishing and now church supplies are among the various businesses employing people here.

Our leaders responded to this week's news with regret and promises to help displaced workers. They're also bound to redouble their work to find new employers who can locate here. We encourage that.

As they do, we suggest they continue to look for variety so that this small part of the nation's economy isn't affected by the swings of one industry. They know it and have said they'd rather have several plants with 50 employees instead of one with 500. That's good. Stay the course and look for versatile manufacturers.

It's true that the news is not good and the economy is bad, but we trust there's a spirit among our neighbors and friends so that, as one of our leaders suggested, we will pull together and help our fellow country boys and girls survive.