Hatteras to close N.C. plant

NEW BERN, N.C. – Hatteras Yachts will phase out production at its plant in Swansboro, N.C. between now and June and shift that production to a larger facility it owns in New Bern, N.C. to take advantage of productivity gains there, the New Bern Sun Journal reported in a story yesterday.

The move will eliminate 200 jobs at the Swansboro plant, the newspaper reported.

“This is a decision that was not made lightly,” Dan Kubera, corporate communications director for Hatteras’ parent company, the Brunswick Corporation, told the Sun Journal. “It came after very serious discussion and deliberations for some time. We don’t close plants on a whim here. We are not selling the plant. The intent is to look at the facility down the road and see how we can deploy it.

“The boat industry in general is challenged, although Hatteras sales have been holding up well with a lot coming from international sales.”

The company is forecasting double-digit growth in 2008 over 2007 sales, and Hatteras management is confident that improvements in its manufacturing process in New Bern will allow consolidation of boat-building activities there to satisfy production commitments, the newspaper reported.

“We have been working on new technology at the New Bern plant for sometime and have succeeded,” Kubera said. “A change from hand-laid laminate to an infused-lamination technique is speeding the process, increasing productivity, and improving quality. It gets boats built a little quicker and better and through the plant. This is the type of productivity we want to take advantage of.”

The company said employees at the Swansboro plant with the proper skills and expertise would be given an opportunity to transfer to the New Bern facility or Brunswick’s plant in Navassa, N.C. Brunswick bought the Navassa plant in July 2007 after a $4.36 million state Job Development Investment Grant was approved, contingent on a company investment of $51.2 million over the next five years, the newspaper reported.

The grant money comes to Brunswick over 10 years and is expected to increase total Brunswick Corporation Navassa jobs from 250 to 858. Kubera said jobs at Navassa now total about 350 and the New Bern plant now employs about 1,000, the Sun Journal reported.

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