HUNDREDS OF LOCAL BOAT MAKERS TO LOSE JOBS IN CLOSURE OF ARLINGTON PLANT
October 10, 2008
(ARLINGTON, WA) -- In an announcement that stunned hundreds of local boat manufacturing workers, one of Snohomish County’s largest employers has become a victim of the now worldwide financial crisis brought on by the sub prime mortgage meltdown. Meridian Yachts says it will close the doors at its 500,000-square-foot manufacturing plant in Arlington within 60 days due to a dramatic decline in boat sales nationally.
One of the sleek Meridian yachts produced at Brunswick's Arlington plant
At one time the Arlington plant employed some 650 skilled craftsmen and women. This past summer workers at the plant were furloughed for a month due to the decline in boat sales.
A spokesman for Brunswick Corporation, which owns the Arlington facility, says the decision had to be made because of the erosion in demand for boats and engines. The decline in demand happened faster that company officials had anticipated and thus the firm was forced to accelerate an already planned work force reduction.
In a news release Dustan McCoy, Brunswick’s Chairman and CEO said, “We are living and working in the most turbulent economic times in recent history.” McCoy added that the mortgage and housing meltdowns, high oil prices and shrinking credit have combined to severely impact demand for boats and engines. McCoy said the company saw sales drop by 40% in the past two months. At the first of the year sales were already down by some 30 percent.
Several months ago Brunswick eliminated some 1,000 jobs at it’s various plants and had planned to eliminate 1,450 more next year in order to trim costs by some $300 Million dollars.
In addition the plant in Arlington, Brunswick plans to shut down operations in Roseburg, Oregon, Ripestone Minnesota, and Navassa North Carolina. Employees at three other company owned plants will be furloughed until the end of the year. The company employed over 800 workers at the start of the year.
Brunswick is the world’s largest manufacturer of pleasure boats. It owns many well-known boating brand names including Bayliner, Meridian and the venerable Boston Whaler. The Arlington factory is where the Bayliner brand used to be built. The plant was retooled in order to make larger yachts. The factory has been making the Meridian brand of yachts there since 2002.
Meridian Yachts was founded in 2002. Brunswick purchased Olympic Boat Centers, a major Northwest distributor of boats, for $2 Million dollars just last month. Olympic Boat centers declared Chapter 11 bankruptcy earlier this year, also a victim of the soft market for pleasure boats.
Meridian Yachts had offered boaters a premier collection of livable, cruising motor yachts. Meridian built Sedan, Motoryacht and Pilothouse models from 35 to 60 feet in length in the 500,000-square-foot, state-of-the-art manufacturing facility in Arlington.