Brunswick defends decision to close Tennessee plant

Author:
Updated:
Original:

A Brunswick Corp. official says the decision to close its Sea Ray plant in Knoxville, Tenn., was a difficult but critical one.

Sea Ray president Robert Parmentier made that statement in a letter obtained by Soundings Trade Only that was sent to employees in conjunction with the news that the plant where they worked will stop production in December.

“Although difficult, this decision was critical to improve our plants’ capacity utilization and our overall profitability,” Parmentier wrote. “We must stay profitable to support our dealers and strategic initiatives that will sustain the long-term health of our business. In the long run, the continuing strategy will create a leaner, more agile company that can more readily adapt to changing market circumstances.”

The need to make the move became clear as the company gained new insight into the marine retail environment, Parmentier wrote.

The most recently released numbers from Statistical Surveys Inc., a Michigan company that tracks boat sales, show August sales of fiberglass cruisers 31-40 feet plummeting 28.8 percent year over year and tracking a 6.7 percent dip for the year.

“We feel the actions that we are taking are aimed at getting ahead of potential market developments on a proactive basis and getting set up for 2013 going forward,” Parmentier wrote.

The decision was “in no way a reflection on the performance of our Knoxville facility,” he wrote.

“Shutdowns and layoffs, unfortunately, are a necessary part of ensuring that Sea Ray moves forward in what has become an extremely difficult and uneven market in Europe and North America,” he wrote.

The move, which Parmentier called “regrettable,” was possible because of capital expenditures the company has made “within the manufacturing footprint to increase capability and flexibility,” he wrote.

The investments, coupled with the ability to move the production of certain models between plants, will help the company emerge “stronger, healthier and more profitable,” Parmentier wrote.

Seven Sea Ray Sundancer models currently built in Knoxville will start to be built in other plants. Three will move to Brunswick’s Palm Coast, Fla., plant and the other four will move to Vonore, Tenn.

“The Sea Ray and Knoxville leadership teams will be working diligently to transfer as many employees between various Sea Ray and other Boat Group locations as possible and practical,” he wrote. “Every effort will be made to preserve the unique Sport Cruiser manufacturing experience and overall production excellence embodied in the Knoxville organization.”

Read more about the changes in the November issue of Soundings Trade Only.

— Reagan Haynes

Related

Should You Require Employee Vaccinations?

With the Covid vaccines becoming more readily available, it’s a topic that’s worth addressing now.

Parker Sponsors ‘Journey for a Cause’

An Indiana college student will embark on a 10-day passage from the Ohio River to the Gulf of Mexico to highlight inclusion and fishing.

With Great Power Comes Great Challenges

Today’s high-horsepower outboards are heavy, and produce prodigious power and torque — three factors that boatbuilders must balance.

Guy Harvey Foundation Awards Scholarships

The inaugural Legacy Scholarship went to four Florida high school seniors who are attending Nova Southeastern University.

Brunswick Launches Training Program

The on-water BoatClass sessions will offer safety courses for both new and seasoned boaters.

Quick Hits: January 19, 2021

Princecraft premieres interactive Virtual Park; European Boating Industry and International Council of Marine Industry Associations strengthen partnership; and Alumacraft celebrate 75 years in business with video series.

Tommy’s Slalom Shop Adds Dealer

Boulder Boats has locations in Nevada, Arizona and California.

Trade Only Today Returns Tuesday

The daily e-newsletter will not publish Monday, Jan. 18, in observance of Martin Luther King Day.