October 17, 2008


Intertek expansion to bring jobs

The company is looking to fill 14 positions, despite laying off workers


Bob Ellis/staff photographer    
Tom Lamb, a technician at Intertek, measures a firefighter’s helmet during testing in the self-contained breathing apparatus lab.

Staff Reporter

POLKVILLE — International testing services company Intertek is expanding its Route 11 facility in Polkville and looking to fill 14 jobs, despite laying off five to seven employees Oct. 10, company directors said.
Intertek will began construction three to four weeks ago on a new warehouse to store samples of the products that it tests, which include air conditioners, breathing apparatuses and automobile headlights, among many others. It will start construction on another storage building in about four weeks, a project it expects to finish in the first quarter of 2009.
The company employs 375 employees in its three facilities in the Cortland area. It has 275 employees in its main facility at 3933 Route 11 in Polkville and 100 in its facilities on Main Street and Clinton Avenue, said Tim Corcoran, director of operations at Intertek. The company has mostly administrative functions in the south Main Street facility.
 About 40 percent of its employees are technicians, 30 percent are engineers and 30 percent are in administration or management positions, Corcoran said.
The company had five to seven layoffs to “fine tune” its work force, said Byron Horak, director of program development at Intertek.
Horak said the layoffs were “an across the board change to improve internal efficiency.”
“As our business changes, we have to constantly change our work force,” Corcoran said.
While many Central New York companies have had recent layoffs, particularly in the manufacturing industry, Horak said Intertek’s recent layoffs are not consistent with its overall work force patterns. He said Intertek has increased its work force by 5 percent since January.
“We’re bucking a national trend,” Horak said.
Last week’s layoffs amount to a 2 percent decrease in the work force, said Mike Parker, director of marketing for Intertek
Parker said the layoffs ranged from administrative positions to sales. Horak, Corcoran and Parker declined to comment on the types of positions that were let go or the specific reasons. Corcoran would not say whether there were 5, 6 or 7 layoffs, deferring all personnel questions to Parker, who was unavailable for comment at press time.
Most of the positions Intertek is looking to fill are for engineers and technicians, Horak said.
Intertek tests the safety and performance of a wide range of products. Manufacturers typically ship their products to the facility, and Intertek tests them and ships them back to the companies. When it approves the safety of products, Intertek gives the products safety certification marks labeled ETL. An ETL label can be found on the bottom of products such as clock radios, cooking appliances and vacuum cleaners.
Horak said ETL is the second largest safety certification mark in the United States and the largest internationally. Its biggest competitor is Underwriter’s Laboratory, or UL.
In the past year, Intertek has added 1,600 square feet to the Polkville facility for lighting testing, in which it is testing new types of energy efficient lights. The building is now 156,600 square feet.
The company has begun construction on a 15,000-square-foot addition, which will be used as a warehouse to store its product samples. Corcoran and Horak said they expect the project to be completed by January.
It also plans to add a 20,000 square foot addition for a storage warehouse that it expects to complete in the first quarter of 2009.
Some of the departments of the Polkville facility that are growing in business include hazardous locations safety testing, heating, ventilation and air conditioning testing, power systems testing and lighting testing, Parker said.
Horak said the largest portion of Intertek’s business is related to its HVAC department, which he said has 85 to 90 employees, mostly technicians, in its Polkville facility.
The HVAC department is growing as companies are phasing out the R-22 refrigerant used in air conditioners and heat pumps and using more energy efficient replacements, such as the 410-A refrigerant.
In the lighting department located in the building’s newest addition, Intertek is testing more energy efficient replacements to incandescent lights, such as Light Emitting Diods, or LEDs.
In the hazardous location department, the company tests electrical equipment meant to operate in explosive-type atmospheres, such as sites in the mining or oil and gas industry, where explosive materials are present. 
In the power systems department, the company has grown in its testing of renewable energy sources, such as wind turbines and photovoltaic systems used to convert solar energy into electricity.


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