SoClean headquarters in Peterborough.

PETERBOROUGH — Peterborough-based SoClean laid off 23 employees in recent weeks but continues to hire for other positions, CEO Bob Wilkins said, as call center work has shrunk while other sectors, such as research and development, continue to grow.

SoClean has more than 200 employees, just as it did last year at this time, he said, after first-quarter growth was stymied by effects from COVID-19, causing the company to reorganize its focus. “We were hoping we could avoid [the effects of] COVID, and we couldn’t,” he said.

The closure of certain sleep centers and medical supply companies due to the pandemic contributed to a drop in CPAP cleaning device sales, he said, which meant drops in related setup calls, which forced the company to lay off call center employees based in Peterborough and Montana.

The company is reorganizing to focus on new products launched this summer, including an air purifier and surface disinfector. Those products don’t require as many phone calls, he said.

SoClean tried to provide severance packages for employees, Wilkins said, and he knows that recruitment for other call centers is up. “We hope they get picked up really quick,” he said.

SoClean is still recruiting in the research and development sector and other areas, he said.

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