TUCSON, AZ– Despite the lagging economy and Arizona’s stagnant unemployment rate, one Tucson employer has not only avoided layoffs for the past 20 years, but has recently increased its workforce. AGM Container Controls celebrated this in April, the anniversary of two decades without layoffs.

According to the Arizona Workforce Unemployment Report, Arizona’s unemployment remained at 9.6% in February for the fourth straight month. In addition, University of Arizona Economist Marshall Vest has cited that more than 30,000 jobs were lost in Tucson during the recession; there are now 40,000 unemployed Tucsonans trying to find work.

Faced with the very real challenges of the recession, Stewart and AGM’s management team developed an 11-step plan for avoiding employee layoffs. The plan gets reviewed and implemented as needed, whenever sales begin to slow. Some of the steps, such as increasing inventories of standard product components and performing exhaustive annual inventory counts, are designed to help AGM get ahead for the periods when sales recover.

This layoff avoidance plan was executed in late 2009 and early 2010, after AGM’s backlog (demands waiting to be filled) decreased precipitously throughout the year and more customers were forced to file for bankruptcy than ever in AGM’s 40-year history. As part of the plan, in the first quarter of 2010, some AGM employees took temporary unpaid leaves of absence to avoid permanent layoffs. However, not a single employee was asked to take more than one week of involuntary unpaid leave.

AGM management’s plan paid off, and the manufacturer’s backlog has since soared to record highs. More importantly, because AGM was able to avoid laying off or terminating any employees who worked at AGM during the difficult times of 2009 and 2010, the company had the requisite manpower to meet the strong sales demand that followed. In fact, AGM’s workforce has increased from 99 employees at the end of 2009 to 115 employees as of March 2011, with a few positions still yet to be filled.