ESCANABA - Due to declining product demands, 26 employees will be laid off today at Engineered Machined Products, Inc., (EMP) in Escanaba, officials announced this morning.
"These are temporary lay-offs until we become financially stronger," said Greg Bekes, human resources director at EMP. "It really depends on the economy as a whole and our business sector."
Workers laid off today include union and non-union support personnel in maintenance, engineering, and accounting.
Daily Press file photo
Temporary layoffs were announced at Engineered Machined Products today. Company officials said 26 union and non-union support personnel will be impacted by the decision.
"These are all fantastic employees," Bekes said. "The layoffs were just financial. We have to cut back."
The reduction in work force is necessary at this time primarily because of the obsolescence of several products made for engines not in compliance with new 2010 emission laws, Bekes explained.
Caterpillar and Navistar (formerly International) - major customers of EMP - cannot meet the new national standards and are cutting back production, he said.
Caterpillar announced in 2008 that it will no longer sell engines in the on-highway truck market, Bekes said. EMP had made water pumps, priming pumps, and fuel system components for these engines.
Navistar has ended its relationship with the Ford Powerstroke diesel engine program at the end of 2009, Bekes added. EMP had made a wide variety of products for these engines.
Earlier last year, EMP laid off about 40 people due to a decline in business then. Employee's work weeks were reduced from 40 hours to 32 hours. There also was a 10-day shutdown at the company in July.
Last fall, business was looking up with a couple major contracts on the horizon. Some of the laid-off employees were called back to work and some work week hours were restored. Company officials had hopes for improving sales and boosting production but that did not occur as quickly as anticipated, Bekes commented.
"We kept people on, expecting the turnaround to be faster...but it wasn't," he said, adding the current work force reduction is a financial measure for the company to become more efficient. About 325 employees continue to work at EMP.
When asked how the future looks for the local manufacturing company, Bekes said, "We see business slowly returning...We're hoping the current lay off will be less than six months but it really depends on the market."
During the last four years, EMP has been diversifying its product line, depending less on diesel products and producing more hydraulics and automotive parts. These industries were also hard hit by the world-wide recession and are just beginning to recover, according to company officials.
EMP's advanced product line continues to do well and has had "an exceptional year," added Bekes. EMP produces parts for the mass transportation market that improve safety and efficiency of buses, he said.
Jenny Lancour, (906) 786-2021, ext. 143, firstname.lastname@example.org