National Seating & Mobility to lay off 108 workers in Chattanooga

Company will reduce Chattanooga workforce over next four months

Photo by Dave Flessner / The National Seating & Mobility storefront and warehouse in the Shallowford Business Office complex, seen Friday, is laying off 108 employees after the company decided to outsource some of the work now done in Chattanooga.
Photo by Dave Flessner / The National Seating & Mobility storefront and warehouse in the Shallowford Business Office complex, seen Friday, is laying off 108 employees after the company decided to outsource some of the work now done in Chattanooga.

National Seating & Mobility is outsourcing its billing and collections and will lay off 108 workers in Chattanooga over the next four months, according to company filings this week with the Tennessee Department of Labor and Workforce Development.

The company, a Franklin, Tennessee-based supplier of wheelchairs, walkers and other mobility devices, said it has chosen AGS Health to perform administrative operations related to funding, billing and collections, which are now largely done at National Seating's office in the Shallowford Business Park West in Chattanooga.

AGS is a revenue cycle management provider with offices in India and elsewhere around the globe and handles medical bills and collections for a number of major hospital networks, physician groups and equipment suppliers in the United States.

"While this is clearly the right decision to further strengthen our business, it will impact current team members," Bill Mixon, chief executive of National Seating, said in a statement to employees about the change.

In a Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act notice about the company's planned layoffs in Chattanooga, the company said the staff cuts in Chattanooga will begin March 23 and continue through July. The affected employees, who are not represented by any labor unions, will be offered help in finding other employment by the company and the Southeast Local Workforce Development Area rapid response team.

National Seating has operated in Chattanooga since 1994 and will maintain an office in Chattanooga, according to company spokeswoman Angie Van Tassell.

"As NSM is a privately held company, we are unable to share details regarding impacted employees, but we are providing those team members with the support and resources needed to find comparable employment," she said in an emailed statement Friday.

Mixon said the company will continue to handle all customer interactions with clients and referral sources, but AGS has more than a decade of experience helping health care providers nationwide to improve the performance of their revenue cycle.

"We are continually looking for new and different ways to advance our operations and better serve our clients, including through external partnerships like AGS," Mixon said in his statement. "AGS offers a variety of services and solutions with specialized staff, highly efficient processes and advanced technologies. Their experience and excellent reputation, teamed with core values and culture that closely align with ours, led us to select AGS as NSM's revenue-cycle partner."


LAYOFFS GROW IN REGION

The planned staff cuts by National Seating are the latest in more than a half dozen major layoffs noticed under the Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act in Southeast Tennessee over the past year.

Last month, Volkswagen supplier Thyssen Krupp announced it will close its Chattanooga operations in the VW supplier park by May, idling 156 workers.

The biggest employment loss in the region came last spring at the Waupaca Foundry in McMinn County, where 540 workers lost their jobs. In one of the biggest layoffs in Tennessee in the past five years, the Waupaca Foundry shut down most of its automotive casting foundry in Etowah and idled its melt, molding and core room production.

The layoffs last year in Southeast Tennessee also hit one of America's oldest suitmakers. Hardwick Clothes, which operated for 142 years, shut down last year and closed its Cleveland, Tennessee, plant where 129 employees still worked. Hardwick was the oldest continually operating manufacturer in Bradley County.

Also in Cleveland, Beiersdorf Manufacturing LLC shut down and laid off 140 workers over the past eight months. But on Tuesday, Formulated Solutions announced it has purchased the former Beiersdorf facility with plans to create 524 new jobs. Formulated Solutions -- which produces aerosols and medical pressurized packs, tubes, liquid and solids at its headquarters in Largo, Florida -- said it will invest $43.6 million to establish its second manufacturing plant, hire 380 new staff members and extend job offers to the majority of the former Beiersdorf employees.

Contact Dave Flessner at dflessner@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6340.

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