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Special Metals cuts 85 area jobs

Layoffs
Jan. 15, 2010 @ 12:56 PM

HUNTINGTON — Special Metals will layoff 85 workers effective Monday at its Tri-State industrial plants in Huntington and Burnaugh, Ky.

Company spokesman Greg Weber confirmed Friday those layoffs had been announced.

The move affects 66 employees in Huntington and 19 at the Kentucky site.

Friday’s announcement follows two rounds of layoffs and a five-day plant shutdown last year.

Weber, speaking on behalf parent company Precision Castparts Corp., explained the most recent layoffs are a symptom of the troubled economy. He said executives must do what they can to ensure long-term profitability.

“There has been a tendency for customers to burn through their inventories,” he said. “There has just been a general caution in the industry about growth. Ideally, as the economy starts to grow the orders will start to grow and there will be more work. That is just not with us right now.”

Weber said layoffs in the Tri-State are consistent with reductions in manpower across the parent company’s spectrum.

“We’re just not growing at the moment,” he said. “When we grow we can look at needing more people. We don’t determine what happens out in the marketplace.”

On Sept. 30, 2009, the company announced layoffs affecting 44 employees — 17 salaried and 27 hourly — at the Huntington plant. Three hourly employees were let go in Burnaugh.

The company shut down operations for five days in May 2009.

In February 2009, the company laid off 19 probationary employees at the Huntington plant and cut 25 full-time workers at Burnaugh.

Special Metals manufactures high-performance nickel alloys for the aerospace, gas well and other industries.

Precision Castparts spent more than $20 million in capital improvements to the Huntington plant during fiscal year  ending March 31, 2008. The company had planned more than $25 million thereafter.

The Huntington plant’s history dates back to 1922, when the International Nickel Co. opened. It became Huntington Alloys in the 1950s, Inco Alloys in the 1980s and Special Metals in the late 1990s, before filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in 2002. Precision Castparts Corp. of Oregon acquired Special Metals in 2006, paying off its debt.

Revenue at the Huntington plant had grown more than 25 percent between 2006 and early 2008. The company, at the time, attributed that growth to nickel escalation and overall volume growth.

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