Bobcat plans March shutdownsBobcat Co. says slack demand for construction equipment will force a production shut down in March at its plants in Gwinner and Bismarck.
By: By James MacPherson, The Associated Press , The Jamestown Sun
BISMARCK — Bobcat Co. says slack demand for construction equipment will force a production shut down in March at its plants in Gwinner and Bismarck.
Bobcat, which is based in West Fargo and known for its skid-steer loaders, employs about 2,000 people at the two plants.
The company says it will shut down production at the Gwinner plant during parts of three weeks in March and at the Bismarck plant during six days scattered over two weeks in March.
“We will continue to evaluate market conditions and adjust production levels accordingly,” Bobcat spokeswoman Nikki Bruce said.
Workers at the two plants returned to their jobs Feb. 16, after an eight-week layoff that started in mid-December. Company officials said the layoff was aimed giving dealers a chance to move inventory to clear the way for more machines.
Jason Allison, president of United Steelworker Local 560 in Gwinner, said workers were not surprised by Friday’s announcement.
“I don’t know if it was necessarily expected, but we saw the writing on the wall with the slow economic times,” Allison said. “That’s why we were laid off from the middle of December until the middle of February.”
Union officials from the United Steelworkers Local 566, which represents the Bismarck plant, did not return telephone calls on Friday.
South Korea’s Doosan Infracore Co. purchased Bobcat in 2007 from Bermuda-based Ingersoll-Rand Co. Ltd., in a deal worth $4.9 billion.
Doosan said the deal was the largest overseas acquisition in Korean history. The company said it has a network of more than 3,500 dealers worldwide and 20 manufacturing plants in the U.S., Europe and China.
Bruce said only the North Dakota-based plants will be shuttered for a time in March.
“I imagine there is a pretty good chance we might not see a regular work week until we start seeing some orders coming in regularly,” Allison said. “This is in the hands of management to decide when we work.
“Everybody that I’ve talked to would rather be working, because when we’re not working, we’re not getting paid,” he said. “Nobody is looking at this like a vacation.”
Bobcat began more than 60 years ago as Melroe Manufacturing, making a skid-steer loader to clean turkey barns in southeastern North Dakota. Ingersoll-Rand bought Bobcat in 1995, from Clark Equipment Co.
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