Oklahoma company avoids layoffs despite downturn in industry

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OKLAHOMA -- Layoffs have been a big topic as we've watched oil and gas prices dip. While good for the pocketbooks of many, it puts a heavy strain of the oil and gas industry, which is a big deal in the Sooner State. There have been thousands of layoffs worldwide, including right here in Oklahoma.

But, there is one Oklahoma company who has a history of planning ahead for the downturns, even paying their employees when there's no work.

“I’ve always been treated with respect,” Dean Gordonwood said.

It's just part of what has kept Gordonwood, and many others, at Oklahoma City-based Kimray for so long.

The company manufactures equipment used in oil and gas production.

Dean has watched recently as one oil and gas company after another has been forced to cut employees. It's a downturn he has seen before. Surprisingly, he's not too concerned.

Gordonwood said, “When times were really tough, Kimray chose not to do the easy thing, which was to cut people."

He worked for Kimray back in the 1980s when the economy was rough.

“It was a grim time. The banks were closing, a lot of people were losing their jobs right and left, people were leaving Oklahoma City in droves,” Gordonwood said.

While they did have to cut back slightly on hours and pay, Kimray did not lay off any  employees.

Gordonwood said, “They lost money, but they kept me on, and they kept other people on.”

In fact, in some cases, employees were sent to work for other entities, while Kimray continued to pay them.

“At Kimray, people are not a commodity to be dealt with like inventory. They're what make our company what it is,” Chief Operating Officer of Kimray Thomas Hill said.

Hill says then, and even now, they've used the downturns to their advantage.

“In a downturn, we have an opportunity to invest in our people through cross training and things, that it's difficult to do when you're growing.”

He says the company tries to be flexible, basing their decisions not only on what's best for the company, but what's best for their 950 employees.

“We want people to think Kimray is a great place to work. We want them to feel like they're valued,” Hill said.

Kimray admits while they can't say there will never be layoffs, they will do everything they can to avoid reaching that point.

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