Adam Huening, Greensburg Daily News

The economic strife faced by Detroit's Big Three automakers is trickling down locally.

GECOM Corp. will be laying off 45 associates, effective Dec. 8, according to director of human resources Debbie Ybarra.

"We are doing a lay off, and it's currently only going to last about a month and half," Ybarra said.

Ybarra said they are asking for associates to volunteer for the lay off, which is expected to last from Dec. 8 until Jan. 5., in the hopes there are people who could weather the time off during the holidays. This way, she said, other associates who may not be able to withstand a month without pay will be able to keep their jobs.

The move comes at a normal slow time for the auto industry. However, the recent crisis with GM, Ford and Chrysler in Detroit, who are among some of GECOM's customers, does not make the current market any easier.

"This is in response to the economic down turn of the Chrsyler industry," Ybarra said. "We're feeling that pain along with other suppliers."

GECOM is in a slightly better position, she noted. The company has developed a diverse customer base, with Nissan and Honda topping the list of biggest customers, which will help them remain more competitive as Detroit stumbles to get back on its feet.

"The Big Three are part of our customer base but not large," Ybarra said. "We have a diverse customer base. It makes us a little more stable than some who have just the Big Three."

Ybarra, however, was quick to point out GECOM was not diminishing the effect Detroit's strife was having on the company.

"We are impacted, but we're trying to do so while protecting our associates' lives," Ybarra said. "We're hanging in there by the skin of our teeth but we're trying to preserve the work."

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