ELKHART — Gunite Corp., a subsidiary of Accuride Corp., is preparing to cut its local workforce by 11 percent in response to declining demand for its products.
The manufacturer of components for heavy- and medium-duty trucks will be laying off 25 full-time associates at the Elkhart facility effective Monday, Timothy Weir, Accuride spokesman, stated in an email. These workers have the shortest tenures at the plant and can be called back if orders increase or if openings become available.
Production workers at the facility are represented by Teamsters Local 364.
Currently Gunite employs 230 full-time salaried and hourly workers at the Elkhart operation on Middlebury Street. It produces wheel-end systems and components, including brake drums, disc wheel hubs and rotors, for commercial vehicles.
Weir attributed the downsizing to the natural shifts in the marketplace rather than to permanent changes at the facility.
“This reduction of a portion of our workforce is in response to a slight decline in demand for the plant’s products,” he wrote. “The reduction is part of the normal ebb and flow of employment that occurs in response to order demand.”
Layoffs are nothing new to Gunite with downsizings occurring as recently as 2006, 2008, and 2009.
In February 2010, the plant got the worst news when Accuride, headquartered in Evansville, announced plans to consolidate production from Elkhart to plants in Rockford, Ill., and Brillion, Wis. The local facility was to have been shuttered by mid-year, impacting an estimated 225 employees.
However, about a month later, Accuride reversed course and decided to keep the Elkhart plant in operation although an undisclosed number of workers would still be laid off.
Accuride recorded net sales of $936.1 million in 2011 with the Gunite Corp. contributing $251.1 million to that total. The parent company also reported a loss of $17 million in 2011 which compares to a loss of $126.5 million from Feb. 26, 2010 to Dec. 31, 2010.
When announcing 2011 fourth quarter and full-year results, Accuride summarized its agenda for 2012.
“With the restructuring efforts to fix the business that we initiated in 2011 setting the stage, 2012 becomes a year of execution for the Accuride team,” Accuride president and CEO Rick Dauch stated in a press release. “Because the commercial vehicle market is projected to continue growing through 2014-15, our work this year focuses on executing the plans that will enable us to capitalize on rising market demand.”
Among the company’s highest priorities is “completing Gunite’s operational turnaround,” Dauch stated.