Fountain Powerboats lays off 70 workers
Published 8:04 am Tuesday, November 4, 2008
Boat-maker’s cuts reduce labor force by more than 20 percent
By GREG KATSKI
For the first time in more than 30 years of making boats, Fountain Powerboats has been forced to make significant layoffs.
On Friday and Monday, Fountain Powerboats laid off 70 employees, according to Carol Price, the company’s human-resources director.
Prior notification was not given to those employees laid off, said Price.
Among those laid off were factory workers and individuals in management-level positions, said Reggie Fountain. the company’s founder and chief executive officer, on Monday.
The company usually scales back production during the slow winter months of October, November, December and January, but it has never made layoffs “of this magnitude,” said Price.
In the wake of the layoffs, the powerboat manufacturer has 270 employees, still making it the second-largest employer in Beaufort County, Fountain said.
The company does not expect to layoff additional workers, and it anticipates the current layoffs to be temporary, said Price.
Every employee laid off will receive full unemployment benefits for six months, said Fountain.
Fountain has previously been quoted as saying his employees are like his family.
Price said the rehiring process depends on how soon the marine industry and economy as a whole bounce back from their existing doldrums.
The powerboat industry, which depends on people’s disposable incomes, has been hit particularly hard by the economic crisis, Price said..
Fountain said the company has fared better than “anyone else in the marine industry” in recent months.
He said the company fought against instituting layoffs for several months.
He said the company has cut back on everything from boats to Fountain-related merchandise.
With the cutbacks, Fountain said he believes the company “will be able to generate enough cash to get through the bad months and get to the good times.”
Price said it is hard to predict when the economy will turn around, but there are “good indicators that the market is going to come back.”
She cited the reduction in gas prices and interest rates among the positive signs for the marine industry.
Fountain said the winter months are usually trying times for the company, but that this year is “just a little tougher than it’s ever been before.”
Fountain called the situation critical, but he said, “I believe that we are going to be in darn good shape real soon.”