Zebco ends production of fishing reels in Tulsa

Friday, February 2nd 2001, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

Zebco completes its layoff of 200 worker in Tulsa. The last 90 said their good-byes at the plant on East Apache. Is it a sign of an economy on the downside? As KOTV's Donn Robertson reports, local economists believe Tulsa will stay strong if people don't get scared.

With a round of applause, fellow union members thanked the last of the Zebco workers. Dee Lancaster spent 24 years with the company. "I think it is a sadder day for America because we are losing our jobs overseas." Zebco leaders say they are the last American rod and reel company to shift productions overseas.

A Zebco-33, at $15, is cheaper today than it was in 1954. Don Freeman with Zebco says, "the prices continue to keep going down. And it got to the point to where we would no longer compete domestically." A University of Tulsa economist says Tulsa's economy can absorb layoffs. The unemployment rate is low, the economy is strong.

Folks out at the boat show say they are not seeing any slow down." Mike Williams with 'Ugly Johns' Boats says, "the only thing sagging a little bit is the consumer confidence index. That's people saying, The sky is falling, the sky is falling. The sky really isn't falling, chicken little." Boat show leaders say sales and turnout are as strong as ever.

Some sales people point out, the economy has been growing at a 6% rate. It's projected to grow 2% this year. Williams adds, "8 years ago, we would have been the happiest people on earth to have a 2% increase in the economy, until we got a 6% then again, we're spoiled." The Zebco workers say they'll miss their co-workers the most, not the job, many believe they will get better ones. Lancaster says, "it's not going to end here, I'll be able to move forward." That's the attitude economists say is needed in order to keep away a recession. Jon Dorminy in Sand Springs says, "people will keep buying as long as interest rates are reasonable, because American's love to be in debt."

The boat sales people say that lower interest rates are helping. A University of Tulsa economist believes tax cuts can also keep the economy from taking a free fall.