Skilled labor shortage - EFI move a symptom of talent loss in the Lakes Region

By MICHAEL KITCH, LACONIA DAILY SUN

LACONIA — The decision of Electronics for Imaging Inc. — EFI — which has manufactured wide-format industrial digital inkjet printers in Meredith for more than a decade to relocate its operations to Londonderry primarily reflects the challenges of attracting and retaining skilled employees that face employers in the Lakes Region.

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Earlier this week, the company announced that it is constructing a 250,000-square-foot facility near the Manchester-Boston Regional Airport, where it will house research and development, manufacturing, warehousing, training, and servicing for its wide-format printers along with a demonstration center for its customers.

David Lindsay, manager of public relations at EFI's headquarters in Fremont, California, said Wednesday that the new facility is scheduled to be completed early in 2018. He said that finding a suitable site within a one-hour commute from Meredith was among the criteria the company applied in relocating its operation and that all the more than 300 people employed in Meredith would be offered work at the new facility.

In announcing the move, Scott Schinlever, senior vice president and general manager of inject solutions, singled out "proximity to the tremendous pool of talent in the greater Boston metropolitan region." His remark was foreshadowed in the company's 2015 annual report, or 10-K, filed with the United States Securities and Exchange Commission. The report notes that "Our VUTEk super-wide format industrial digital inkjet printers are primarily manufactured in a single location in Meredith, New Hampshire" and continues "We have encountered difficulties in hiring and retaining adequate skilled labor and management because Meredith is not located in a major metropolitan area."

The report takes the issue a step further by designating the maintenance of an adequate workforce among the factors placing the company's growth and competitiveness at risk. "If we are not able to hire and retain skilled employees," the report reads, "we may not be able to develop and manufacture products, to meet demand for our products, in a timely fashion." Repeating that its super-wide format industrial digital inject printers are produced at single locations, the company notes that "any significant interruption in the manufacturing process at there facilities could adversely affect our business."

EFI established its presence in Meredith with the acquisition of VUTEk Inc., a maker of wide-format printers, in 2005. Lindsay described the acquisition as "a turning point for the company," which marked its entry into the wide-format printer market. The company expanded its presence in this market with the acquisition of Raster Printers of Silicon Valley, California in 2008 and Matan Digital Printers of Williamsville, New York, in 2015. During the 12 months ending in June of this year, the industrial inkjet printer segment generated $530.3 million in revenue, representing 55 percent of total revenues and year-over-year growth of 39 percent.

Lindsay said that the site in Londonderry, apart from its proximity to a larger pool of labor, will also be close to the airport, which will provide greater convenience for employees coming to the facility for training and customers visiting to view products as well as facilitate shipping and receiving products by air.

Meanwhile, EFI owns 34.5 acres of land and some 141,000 square feet of building space with an aggregate assessed value of some $5.7 million in Meredith.

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Waring faces Burchell for County Commission

By ROGER AMSDEN,  LACONIA DAILY SUN

LACONIA — Glen Waring of Gilmanton is challenging incumbent Richard "Dick" Burchell in the Republican primary election for the District 2 seat on the Belknap County Commission, representing the towns of Barnstead, Belmont, Gilmanton and Tilton for a four-year period.
Waring, who served as the finance director for the county from 2011 until 2015 and was recently named finance director for the town of Gilford, said he decided to run because he wasn't satisfied with the kind of representation that the towns in District 2 were receiving on the commission.
"I think the residents of the district deserve an alternative," Waring said. "I have the qualifications. I understand how government works, know what should be changed and have some ideas about how to change them." He stresses his ability to work in collaboration with others to achieve efficiencies, which he says will help keep taxes low, and says that he brings a skill set to the office which will enable him to be an effective commissioner from his first day in office.
His candidacy has been endorsed by Commission Chairman David DeVoy (R-Sanbornton), who said the election of Waring would help create a "a fully cooperative Board of Commissioners, with all three members working together in a productive and civil manner, placing policy above personality."
Burchell, who has frequently been at odds with his fellow commissioners over the past two years and was ousted as chairman of the commission in March of 2015, less than two months after taking office, says that he intends to continue to provide a voice of dissent when he disagrees with the other commissioners.
"I don't intend to change. I don't apologize for my role," said Burchell, adding that despite clashes with fellow commissioners he has been able to develop respectful and cordial relationships with those involved in county government, including department heads, as well as members of the County Delegation, where he served in 2013-14. He became commissioner after defeating incumbent Commissioner John Thomas (R-Belmont) in the 2014 GOP primary 808-671 and winning an uncontested general election.
After Burchell was elected to the county commission, Commissioner Stephen Nedeau (R-Meredith) resigned his seat, saying he was unable to work with the new commissioners, leaving only Burchell and DeVoy, both of whom were newly elected. Burchell became chairman, but when the county delegation appointed Hunter Taylor to fill the vacant seat, he soon found himself a minority of one. At a clamorous meeting in March 2015, Burchell was ousted as chairman by a two-to-one vote, which he challenged without success in Superior Court.
The relationship between the three current commissioners continued to remain stormy. At a June 4 meeting last year, commissioners Taylor and DeVoy censured Burchell for leaking information from a nonpublic meeting to former Belknap County Nursing Home Administrator Matthew Logue, held while Burchell was still chairman .
DeVoy and Taylor again censured Burchell in May of this year for what they said was official misconduct in connection with his attempts to access protected medical records in the state Department of Health and Human Services database. Burchell maintained he was only seeking the information in order to fine out how state reimbursements to county homes are determined.
Burchell said he welcomes Waring's candidacy.

"I think it's great," he said. "It gives people a real stark choice. That's what elections are about."
He said he did not have a good relationship with Waring when he was county finance director and criticized Waring for failing to provide the kind of budget format sought by then County Delegation Chairman Colette Worsman (R-Meredith), which he said resulted in Worsman having to spend time developing her own format.
Waring would not comment on the relationship with Burchell, but did say at an open meeting in October of 2014 at which Burchell, Worsman and former Rep. Robert Greemore (R-Meredith), acting as the county's Personnel Committee, reinstated former Belknap County Nursing Home Director Matthew Logue, that the report they produced was "not worth the paper it was written on."
Burchell said that the future of the Belknap County Nursing Home in light of changes in the form and rate of Medicaid reimbursements is the most pressing issue facing the county.
"This is something we really need to be discussing. There are changes which could have a very bad impact on us which are being glossed over. What we need is something which is affordable and sustainable for the county and this discussion needs to be had," said Burchell.
He questions the county's involvement with the Community Health Services Network and says he is concerned that a program which provides $150 million over a five-year period for transforming local health services will turn into an unfunded mandate which will be costly for county taxpayers.
Waring said a proposal put forth by Burchell for discussion of the possible privatizing the county nursing home has been rejected and that he looks forward to working with agencies that will help people stay in their homes longer as a way of holding down future costs.
"One of my individual goals for Belknap County, should I be elected, is to not only maintain the current level of fiscal responsibility, but to also set forth a path to long-term fiscal responsibility through long range budgeting and forecasting." said Waring.
Burchell said he would like to see the county develop a long-term budget and fiscal plan which would establish priorities and determine how to fund them and provide fiscal stability for the county's operations.

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Alleged drunk driver held after hitting dumpster in Belmont

By GAIL OBER, LACONIA DAILY SUN

LACONIA — A Belmont man was held on $2,000 cash bail Wednesday following his arrest on Tuesday for driving while intoxicated, subsequent offense, driving after revocation and for violating the conditions of his bail.

Police said Leo M. Hanson, 49, of 21 Chestnut Ave., allegedly hit a dumpster while in the parking lot of the Belmont Village Store and a concerned citizen called the police with a description of the truck.

Police located the same truck at the intersection of Route 106 and Route 140 and signaled for it to stop. A police sergeant followed the truck into the parking lot at Brookside Pizza and, after the officer had a conversation with Hanson, he determined the truck driver had been drinking.

Affidavits said Hanson failed a field sobriety test and was taken into custody. His female passenger was put into protective custody as she had also been drinking.

Records show Hanson was convicted of DWI on Dec. 28, 2016. On Aug. 13 he was charged with driving after revocation, which is a class A misdemeanor.

The Belmont prosecutor told 4th Circuit Court, Laconia Division, Presiding Justice James Carroll that Hanson had told him he wanted to get help for his drinking problem, something Hanson's own attorney confirmed.

Public Defender Chelsea Lane said her client has hit his bottom and would agree to go to compliance court and show proof he is seeking assistance.

After consideration of Hanson's home and family life, Carroll determined that he was not comfortable letting Hanson go free on personal recognizance bail unless he would install an alcohol interlock device in his truck and/or wear an ankle monitoring bracelet that could detect any alcohol use.

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