Cirrus Design, seeking greater efficiencies across the board, has eliminated 102 positions at its Duluth, Minn., and Grand Forks, N.D., locations, including 25 positions where employees had made routine resignations.
Chief Operating Officer Brent Wouters said “efficiencies” is his new company-wide mantra. “I think we’d gotten a little bit complacent and added positions that weren’t needed,” Wouters said.
Cirrus will freeze production at the present 14 aircraft per week this year.
“We’re very optimistic about the piston business,” Wouters said. Demand may improve in the fourth quarter, thanks in part to newly passed tax incentives, but Wouters said he doesn’t expect the current economic malaise to end until after the first half of 2009. He feels that while fourth quarter demand will be greater, it will still fall below what Cirrus officials would like.
International sales have been up 20 percent, but domestic sales have slumped, leaving the company down 8 percent overall. In such a market, the lower priced Cirrus SRS light sport aircraft becomes the entry-level key to growing the business, Wouters said. “An aircraft in the low 100s [0,000] is a boon for the industry. We have around 200 orders. A lower end product will show people that they can do this [learn to fly],” Wouters said.
Wouters gave the company two production days off recently to synchronize supply with demand. Even with staff reductions, the company still employs 1,230 people, 52 more than in 2006.