Production To Resume After Month-Long Layoff
Cirrus Design's announcement of the
restart of its assembly lines, recalling most of its employees that
were laid off a month ago back to work Monday, is likely a good
sign for the light aircraft manufacturing industry as a whole.
As Cirrus CEO Brent Wouters predicted, a slow turn around has
begun. The company is gearing up to resume production, although at
a lower level than its full capacity, targeting about eight planes
per week to keep pace with current demand, Wouters said.
More workers are expected to be brought back as needed. Bill
King, Cirrus' Vice President of Business Administration, said, "It
took a while to wind down our production, and it will take a while
to wind it back up," the Duluth News Tribune reported.
As ANN reported,
Cirrus laid off 335 workers in Duluth and 165 more in Grand
Forks last November as a result of slumping sales, as
the nation reeled in the throes of the economic depression.
In the interim, Cirrus provided workers with benefits typically
unheard of in a furlough situation. Medical and other key benefits
continued to be paid by Cirrus for its affected employees.
Additionally, Cirrus coordinated with state government offices
regarding available programs to supplement traditional compensation
benefits for its employees.
The resumption of production is good news for Cirrus' suppliers,
too. Dave Hudyma, founder of Duluth's SCS Aircraft Interiors, said
he has been in survival mode since Cirrus halted production. "When
they shut down, it hurts," he said. "We had to cut back on hours.
But we have a good, understanding crew, and we've been able to keep
Duluth's Northstar Aerospace, a manufacturer of Cirrus
components, is also recalling laid-off workers. John Eagleton,
Northstar's CEO, said, "We're probably restoring about 20 percent
of our work force initially, and we'll be growing that to 30 or 40
percent over the next couple months."
Looking ahead at the new year, Eagleton is encouraged -- not
only because Cirrus is resuming production -- but also due to
progress with another Northstar customer,
Eclipse Aviation. Although in the midst of restructuring
after filing a Chapter 11 bankruptcy, Eagleton said it
appears that Eclipse will also resume production, in February.