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Lancaster Chamber to host job fair in wake of Worley & Obetz closure

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Business leaders in Lancaster County have been stepping up in response to the recent closure of Penn Township-based energy company Worley & Obetz Inc., which left more than 250 people without jobs.

The Lancaster County Chamber of Commerce and Industry is hosting a “pop-up” job fair Tuesday in partnership with Rhoads Energy Corp. and Lancaster County Workforce Development Board.

"Worley and Obetz has been an iconic company in Lancaster county. It has a very rich history and has been a model corporate citizen. And to watch all of that unravel in a week’s time was nothing short of head spinning," said Tom Baldrige, president and CEO of the Lancaster Chamber.

The event is open to all job-seekers and will feature more than 60 companies, representing all industries, with open positions.

The job fair will take place from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Rhoads Energy training center at 205 Hazel St. in Lancaster.

"There’s the curiosity, the questions, the chatter in the community, but what we can’t lose sight of is that more than 250 people lost their jobs," Baldrige said. "The immediate need is to make sure that those people are placed as quickly as possible. And I’m so proud of how the business community has stepped up."

Lancaster-based Rhoads Energy has been instrumental in organizing the job fair, chamber officials said.

Mike DeBerdine, CEO of Rhoads Energy, said he was shocked when his competitor announced its closure last week. He and Seth Obetz, the former vice chairman of Worley & Obetz, are friends, DeBerdine said.

"I actually got a call from Seth directly. He is a wonderful guy and his family, they are just great people. We’ve known each other for decades. There’s a tremendous amount of respect," DeBerdine said.

Rhoads had been supporting Worley & Obetz with supplies and transportation after Worley & Obetz was forced to make financial cuts last month, DeBerdine said.

The cuts came after it was revealed that Worley & Obetz was being investigated for fraud after the brief disappearance of its former CEO, Jeffrey Lyons.

Rhoads Energy has already hired two former Worley & Obetz staff members – an office support manager and a CDL driver, DeBerdine said.

Rhoads is one of several local energy companies taking on the customers Worley & Obetz can no longer serve.

Though DeBerdine could not specify the number of customers Rhoads has picked up, he said it’s all hands on deck at Rhoads.

"After the announcement, our call volume went up 138 percent from the call volume we usually receive," DeBerdine said. "We tried to deal with their concerns and put them at ease that we would assist them and they would not go without service."

Commercial customers have been Rhoads' highest priority, DeBerdine said, adding that without energy, they can't operate their businesses.

Efforts to reach Obetz were not immediately successful.

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Shelby White

Shelby White covers banking and finance, law and Lancaster County for the Central Penn Business Journal. For tips, email her at swhite@cpbj.com.

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