Fountain CEO believes layoffs are short term

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Fountain Powerboat Industries recently laid off 70 workers at its Washington, N.C., plant, but chairman and CEO Reggie Fountain says he believes the layoffs will be temporary.

“I think by February we can put them back on the job,” Fountain told Soundings Trade Only this morning.

Fountain blamed the cutbacks on the economic downturn and the continuing slump in marine sales. He said the company, which still employs 270 workers, is building only the number of boats it can sell to avoid inventory buildup and to conserve cash.

“It keeps getting tougher out there,” he said.

However, Fountain is optimistic that markets conditions will improve by early next year. He points for four key ingredients: the election is over, along with all the negative campaign ads; the Wall Street crisis is “semi-over,” as the federal government takes steps to reinvigorate the economy; gas prices are lower; and interest rates are down.

“I think starting today it’s getting better, and it’s going to continue to get better,” said Fountain. “I think by the Miami show we’ll see things turn around.”

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