Report: Hendrickson to lay off 150 workers at Ontario plant

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Hendrickson’s truck parts plant in Stratford, Ontario, will lay off about 150 workers, as truck manufacturers prepare for slumping sales, the plant’s manager told the London (Ont.)Free Press on Wednesday, Dec. 13.

Itasca, Ill.-based Hendrickson is a supplier of truck, tractor and trailer suspensions, truck and trailer lift axles, bumpers and trim components and springs to the commercial transportation industry. The Stratford plant, which makes heavy springs for Freightliner’s Sterling Truck plant in St. Thomas and International Truck in Chatham, will issue layoff notices to about 35 percent of its hourly and salaried work force in the first quarter of 2007, says Bill Fautch, plant manager. Freightliner issued 800 layoff notices last week, and workers at International recently were hit with 640 layoffs.

“There is a market downturn, and all the truck manufacturers are announcing major layoffs,” Fautch told the Free Press. “It is expected to be severe, and we are preparing for that. This is a very difficult situation for everybody.”

The trucking industry has been hit hard because of new emissions regulations that take effect in 2007 that will see anywhere from $7,500 to $12,000 added to the price tag of an average new, large truck. Trucking companies are buying vehicles now to escape the increased cost next year, meaning slower sales in 2007. “It is linked to the anticipated drop in demand for medium- and heavy-duty trucks,” says Ralph Norton, a Hendrickson spokesperson in Canton, Ohio. “Most fleets are not buying new trucks in the first half of 2007,” Norton told the Free Press.

Truckmakers have expressed confidence that many laid-off workers will be recalled by the end of 2007, when sales are projected to start increasing. “We will make the layoffs based on the actual order board,” Fautch told the Free Press. “We will wait and see what happens. We will follow the market cycle. We are hopeful it is a short downturn.”