Tom Oreck has been taking a lot of heat lately. The president of the Oreck Corporation, a privately-held New Orleans-based company that makes vacuum cleaners at a 500-employee plant in Long Beach, Miss., recently announced that he's moving the company's manufacturing operations to Cookeville, TN. The reasons: insurance costs that have nearly doubled for just one-third the coverage; and a crippling lack of skilled workers to fill jobs at the plant. Blame it on Katrina, which devastated the region and destroyed the housing stock.
Tom Oreck was once hailed as a local hero when, ten days after the storm, he re-opened the New Orleans headquarters and the plant. He provided temporary housing for employees, and brought in truckloads of food, water and supplies. "My Dad, David Oreck, founded this company 40 years ago and I'm not going to let a hurricane destroy what he created," said Tom Oreck. "If they were an Oreck employee before the hurricane, they still have a job." These are not the words of a CEO who is planning to bail out.