Turbulent economy drives more layoffs

HOMOSASSA, Fla. – When Pro-Line Boats laid off more than 100 employees at its Homosassa, Fla., facility in November, the company intended to ramp its production back up after Jan. 7. However, with the economy still turbulent, those employees have not yet been recalled, the Bay News 9 television station reported in a recent story on its Web site.

“Unfortunately, the last few weeks haven’t been much better than the few weeks before that,” John Walker, general manager of Pro-Line Boats, was quoted as saying.

That same sentiment is driving other boat builders to lay off additional employees in the new year. Genmar Holdings’ Larson, Glastron and Seaswirl brands expect to lay off an undetermined number of employees at the end of this week, according to an article on sctimes.com.

President Al Kuebelbeck told the newspaper that while he hopes to rehire employees, the economy will have to “improve drastically” for that to happen. The three Little Falls, Minn.-based boat plants has seen their total number of employees decline from 600 a year ago to about 400 today, according to the article.

Yacht builders haven’t been spared the impacts of economic conditions either. The Hinckley Co. is laying off 25 employees from its Trenton, Maine, plant not long after a round of 49 layoffs a the same facility in October, according to an article on bangornews.com.

A company executive told the newspaper he doesn’t expect the layoffs to be permanent. Once orders increase, Hinckley hopes to bring them back.

Meanwhile, Pro-Line’s Walker said he is asking employees to check in on a week-by-week basis to see if there is any work. But, so far, only a few small crews have been brought in for special orders, like a boat for the state of Wisconsin. Government orders like that have kept the Pro-Line plant moving somewhat, according to the Bay News 9 television station report.

Officials said that several of Pro-Line’s competitors around the state are also staying closed and one, which was not identified, won’t reopen until May, the television station stated.

Despite the lack of business, Pro-Line has been keeping up the health benefits of the employees who aren’t working. The company is also trying to adapt by building a brand of more economical boats, while getting ready to start a new retail sales initiative, according to the article.

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