Volvo – A Driving Force in New River Valley Economy

Ryan Reeves thought he had it made.

The 19-year-old Christiansburg resident was living his dream of working at Volvo Trucks North America’s Dublin plant.

“Shoot, that’s all I ever wanted to do,” he said.

Reeves grew up visiting the plant often with his father, Rick, a 15-year veteran there. The younger Reeves became enamored of the factory, which provides the highest-paying production jobs in the region and exerts a strong influence over the New River Valley’s labor market.

When Volvo announced plans last year for a $ 148 million expansion, Reeves was quick to apply for a job. He was among 725 new workers brought on last summer for a night production shift.

Reeves’ stint was short.

Despite a booming national economy that has raised consumer confidence and lowered unemployment rates, the heavy truck industry is in a slump. Manufacturers across the country, accustomed to the volatile dips in the industry, are preparing for a downturn in part because there is an oversupply of used trucks and a shortage of truck drivers.

Volvo was the first to cut its work force.

Reeves was one of 900 workers laid off at the Dublin plant this month. The company is cutting production at the plant from 112 trucks a day to 80, a move company officials said was necessitated by a drop in demand.