Proud history:

• Originally W. Anderson (Engineer) Ltd where W.B. (Bill) Easton became managing director in 1946.

• W.B. Easton established the business in 1953, on the Millar's Rd site. At that time the company was known for its bridge-building capabilities and between the 1960s and 1980s manufactured and installed more than 400 bridges across the country. The last was the Mangatewai-nui between Dannevirke and Norsewood in 1987, along with the bridge across the Manawatu River to Ballance.

• In 1970s as steel bridges lost favour to pre-stressed concrete bridges, the company began dabbling in boilers and W.B. Easton decided to focus more on building and installing those which soon became the primary business of the company.

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• Bill Easton retired in 1976. His son, Bryce, continued to run the business until 1985 when he sold to Bruce McBeth, who had joined the company when he was 16, and Paul Dippie, who changed the name to Easteel Industries.

• Since the early days the company grew to become Australasia's most successful supplier of energy systems to industry.

• In 2002, Easteel was named Hawke's Bay Business of the Year for large companies and also won the supreme award.

• In November 2005, Easteel became a wholly owned subsidiary of RCR Tomlinson, an ASX-listed company, and in 2007 the name changed to RCR Energy, comprising two main entities, Systems and Service.

Despite earlier reassurances jobs at Dannevirke's RCR Energy would be safe, the news almost half are likely to lose their jobs is a devastating blow.
And for one family, the redundancies are particularly gutting, with two members of the family affected.

"Both my husband and my brother are affected by the redundancies, which came as a complete shock," one family member who didn't want to be identified, has told the Dannevirke News.

"My husband did his apprenticeship at the company, moved to Feltex where he was made redundant there and now this," she said.

"I feel for the young apprentices just starting out too."

Tararua District mayor Tracey Collis said: "This is absolutely devastating news.

"To lose your job at any time of the year isn't good, but this news coming at this time of the year so close to Christmas just adds to the stress levels for families."

However, Collis said she hoped opportunities could be found for the staff locally.

"The staff at RCR Energy have highly technical skills, but we've some wonderful engineering companies in our district, it's what we are known for," she said.

"The Tararua Business Network is here and will help RCR and the affected staff in whatever way they can."

On Tuesday morning, RCR Energy told the 49 staff at its Dannevirke boiler manufacturing plant that 20 jobs would need to be cut to keep the plant afloat, E tū union organiser Laurel Reid said.

"Workers were reeling after the company announced pending job losses related to its Australian parent company RCR Tomlinson being put into administration," Reid said.

RCR Energy in Dannevirke employs 49 workers, including management and support roles, she said.

"This is a massive blow for the workers and the small community of Dannevirke."

Details of the redundancies are expected to be announced in a week's time, Reid said, "but for 20 people, it won't be good news and it's through no fault of their own".

She said the union and workers understood the cuts were related to the RCR Energy's parent company, RCR Tomlinson, going through liquidation.

RCR Tomlinson was one of two companies awarded a joint-venture contract to build Auckland's City Rail Link, but it was placed in a trading halt on November 12, before being put into administration nine days later.

Wairarapa MP Alastair Scott said it was up to politicians to ensure the economy was robust and moving.

"It's a bugger for those affected. Losing your job any time, especially before Christmas, isn't good," he said. "[But] I'm sure those affected will get jobs."