Mercury Marine announced Thursday it will lay off 50 hourly employees from its aluminum castings plant in Fond du Lac, Wis., next week in an effort to manage internal inventory.
The affected employees work in Mercury's Plant 17, which includes high- and low-pressure die-cast aluminum castings operations, as well as the company's high-pressure lost-foam aluminum castings foundry.
"Making such changes is always difficult, but prudent business practices essentially require this action," said Dennis Rooney, vice president of human resources at Mercury Marine, in a statement. "Technology is ever-changing, which results in our ongoing review of manufacturing processes and operations. In this particular case, we simply no longer require the volume of parts produced by employees in these positions."
The company says production of conventional two-stroke outboard engines, which includes many die-cast parts, has been significantly reduced in recent years because of federal emission regulations, and consumer preference for four-stroke and direct-fuel-injected engines.
Demand for Mercury outboards remains strong, the company says, but the company's higher-horsepower, higher-technology engines typically use many components produced in the company's high-pressure lost-foam foundry, a process less labor intensive than die-casting.
The final day for the laid off employees will be April 13. The company says no other layoffs are planned. The average tenure of those affected is about four years, with the longest tenure less than seven.
The company in late January laid off 68 employees at its principal outboard assembly plant in Fond du Lac, also because of inventory control. The company says it has since rehired about half those workers.
Employees affected by the two layoffs will have first-right-of-refusal options on seasonal jobs at the Fond du Lac distribution center, based on their level of seniority with Mercury, the company said.
Mercury Marine employs about 6,400 people worldwide. About half work at the Fond du Lac site.