Portraits Of Hardship

Meet Some Of The People Impacted By The DHL Layoffs In Wilmington Ohio

In January 2009, 60 Minutes correspondent Scott Pelley first reported on the plight of Wilmington, Ohio, a town that is finding itself in the epicenter of the current economic crisis. In 1980, Airborne Freight Corp. (later Airborne Express) established a large hub at Wilmington's abandoned Air Force Base, creating thousands of jobs. The facility became known as the "air park."

According to the mayor, one out of three households has a family member working at the air park.

December 2009: The Long Recession
Web Extra: Still Helping Others
Web Extra: "We Need A Hand Up
Web Extra: What Happens Next
Wilmington, Ohio's Long Recession

In 2003, German shipping giant DHL bought Airborne, in an attempt to grow it's U.S. presence dramatically, and take on shipping powerhouses UPS and Federal Express.

The merger was rocky, there were service disruptions, and customers left in droves. With last fall's economic crash, DHL was losing $6 million a day in the U.S.; layoffs started coming by the hundreds.

The company announced that it would suspended U.S.-only ground and air services, to solely focus on international freight instead. Now thousands of employees are finding themselves out of a job and the city in serious trouble.

  • Meet Mike O'Machearley. Since Scott Pelley's story aired, O'Machearley, who lost his DHL job, received over 200 orders for his hobby-turned-business of engraved knives, which he says is over a year's worth of orders.
  • Meet Sherry Barrett, a sorter who took an early layoff and who tried to fight DHL's leaving town, but could not prevail. She has strong feelings about bailouts.
  • Meet Geri Lynn Thomas, a down-and-out sorter who would sleep in her car between shifts to conserve gas. Thomas has also begun building up a stockpile of food.
  • Mayor David Raizk, who for a side job also manages a local auto dealership, talks to Scott Pelley about the town's projected job losses.
  • The Rapid Response Session. After the layoffs, many of the DHL workers found themselves in a company sponsored session to discuss issues such as healthcare and mortgages. But the emotional strain was visible, as workers shared their fond memories of working at the air park.
  • Watch Pelley's complete January 2009 report