PREBLE, N.Y. — When Lori Meyer first walked through the doors of the
Saulsbury Fire Rescue plant nearly 15 years ago, she thought she would never
need to look for work again.
"I really thought this was where I was going to retire," she said.
Instead, the 41-year-old Meyer will start 2005 unemployed.
"My plan," she said, "is to hopefully get a job soon, and, I guess, get on
She's not alone.
After nearly a half-century, Saulsbury, the fire and rescue apparatus
manufacturer, closed its door for good Thursday. Though not unexpected — its
owner E-One announced back on June 30 the company would shut the central New
York facility — the plant's closure eliminated 205 jobs.
The layoffs started in September. By the time the plant's last day rolled
around, 40 workers remained.
"The hard part was watching the people disappear," 26-year-old engineer Ron
Furner told the Cortland Standard. "Every fifth or 15th day of the month,
less and less people that you've worked with were here."
The decision by the Ocala, Fla.-based E-One to shutter the Preble facility
21 miles south of Syracuse, was to consolidate operations and eliminate the
fixed costs associated with having plants in two states, company officials
said. In all, the company has four plants in Ocala, two in Finland, two in
Holland and one in Alberta, Canada.
Though 75 percent of the Preble employees were offered relocation packages,
E-One general manager Bill Carroll said it soon became clear the majority of
workers, with their ties to Central New York, were not going to move. In
fact, just 13 employees elected to relocate.
"My husband owns a dairy farm, so (relocation) was something that I didn't
consider," Meyer said.
Saulsbury was formed in 1948 by Fancher L. "Sam" Saulsbury, who also served
as Preble's fire chief for a decade beginning in 1954.
It wasn't long before orders from surrounding fire departments began to roll
in, and in 1972, ground was broke for a 40,000 square-foot manufacturing
plant in Tully. But by the 1980s, the company had outgrown that facility and
moved into an 85,000 square-foot plant in Preble.
At its peak, Saulsbury employed some 300 people and sold emergency vehicles
to countries around the globe.
In 1998, the company, which had remained in Saulsbury's family after his
death in 1978, was sold to E-One's parent, Federal Signal Corp., for roughly
"When you are working face to face with fabricators you learn a lot," said
Furner, who worked at the plant for five years, including a brief stint in
Ocala. "Corporate office doesn't see that. Down south everything is just
more impersonal … This place has the best fabricators I've ever seen in my
"I enjoyed the people I worked with," added Meyer. "It felt like one big