Mercury to lay off 50 at castings plant

FOND DU LAC, Wis. – Mercury Marine will lay off 50 hourly employees from its aluminum castings plant in Fond du Lac, Wis., next week in an effort to manage internal inventory, the company reported earlier this week.

The affected employees work in Mercury’s Plant 17, which includes high- and low-pressure die-cast aluminum castings operations, as well as the company’s high-pressure lost-foam aluminum castings foundry. The average tenure of those affected is about four years; the longest tenure is less than seven years.

April 13 will be the final day of work for those included in the layoff. The company said no other layoffs are anticipated at this time.

Mercury said the layoffs are largely a result of the outboard model mix in place in Mercury’s Fond du Lac manufacturing pipeline. The production of conventional two-stroke outboard engines, which includes many die-cast parts, has been significantly reduced in recent years due to emission regulations and consumer preference for four-stroke and direct-fuel-injected engines.

Mercury’s higher-horsepower, higher-technology engines typically use many components produced in the company’s high-pressure lost-foam foundry, a process far less labor intensive than die-casting.

The company said demand for its outboards remains strong, but the decreased need for die-cast components has resulted in excess capacity in Plant 17 that will be rectified by the layoff.

“Making such changes is always difficult, but prudent business practices essentially require this action,” said Dennis Rooney, vice president of human resources at Mercury Marine. “Technology is ever changing, which results in our ongoing review of manufacturing processes and operations. In this particular case, we simply no longer require the volume of parts produced by employees in these positions.

“We truly appreciate the work these employees have provided and we wish them the very best.”

Mercury also said it has rehired about half the 68 employees affected by a January layoff from Plant 15, the company’s principal outboard assembly facility.

Employees affected by both layoffs will have first-right-of-refusal options on seasonal jobs in Plant 3, Mercury’s Fond du Lac distribution center, based on level of seniority with the company.

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