Sea Ray Boats lays off 65 in Flagler – Daytona Beach News

PALM COAST — About 65 workers were laid off this week at the Sea Ray Boats Inc. facility in Flagler County, company officials confirmed Friday.

“We did have a reduction in force this week at our Palm Coast manufacturing facility,” said Daniel Kubera, director of media relations and corporate communications for Brunswick Corp., Sea Ray’s parent company, in an email response to questions. “Employees were informed earlier in the week. Approximately 65 were affected of a total employee population of about 420.”

Kubera said the layoffs were part of “the normal ebb and flow of the boating industry” and the company is “continually adjusting our production to better match demand in various industry segments.”

Flagler County Director of Economic Opportunity Helga van Eckert said the layoffs do not necessarily mean the local economy is souring.

“You never like it when companies lay off,” she said. “I think this is just one of those industry-specific things that you see.”

Van Eckert said certain industries have fluctuations in sales and production and “it goes up and down” depending on the season.

“I wouldn’t say this is an indicator of what we’re going to see going forward,” she said.

Flagler’s jobless rate of 12.2 percent in March was the highest in the state, according to figures from the Department of Economic Opportunity. The statewide unemployment rate for March was 9 percent and the national jobless rate for the month was 8.2 percent.

Kubera said the boating industry “remains stable” with demand for smaller boats outpacing sales of larger boats, including the kind made at the Palm Coast facility. He said he is unaware of layoffs at any other manufacturing facility in the company’s boat segment, which includes a Boston Whaler plant in Edgewater.

In its latest quarterly earnings report, released in April, Brunswick reported first quarter 2012 net sales of $974.2 million, down from $985.9 million during the same period in 2011. Earnings per share were 43 cents for the quarter, up from 30 cents during the same period last year.

“Our first quarter increase in earnings per share demonstrates the continuing success of our business strategy,” Dustan McCoy, Brunswick chairman and CEO, said in a news release.

For the company’s boat segment, Brunswick officials said net sales increased 1 percent in the quarter compared with the same period in 2011 and the company posted operating earnings of $2.8 million, compared with a loss of $4.8 million for the first quarter of 2011.

McCoy offered an upbeat assessment of the company’s future performance.

“Although a number of the factors that negatively affected sales and earnings in the first quarter will continue into the second, we are planning for significant sales and earnings growth in the second half of this year,” he said in the earnings release.

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