Performance Fibers cuts 20 percent of workforce

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, December 1, 2009

By Mark Wineka
Performance Fibers’ Salisbury plant confirmed Wednesday a 20 percent reduction in workforce effective immediately.
The company, which has 12 plants worldwide, announced its intentions to employees Jan. 7, and final cuts were made Tuesday.
The plant is located off U.S. 70 between Salisbury and Cleveland.
The company would not divulge the current employment level at the Salisbury operation for competitive reasons, but the plant has been among Rowan County’s 10 largest employers.
In 2008, the Rowan County Chamber of Commerce’s Employers Directory put Performance Fibers’ workforce at 660, but that was before other reductions in both the plant and among contract employees.
“This reduction in the workforce is part of a yearlong effort at Performance Fibers to right-size our manufacturing footprint to better align with the needs of our customers’ demands for our products,” company spokesman Jay Pomeroy said.
“While some of these reductions were due to the economy, they are more tied to the long-term strategy of serving our customers and keeping our business profitable.”
Pomeroy said the elimination of jobs in Salisbury was “in no way a reflection of the workforce in Salisbury.”
“The people there are excellent employees and workers,” he said.
About 25 percent of the people leaving the company took a voluntary layoff, and some were able to retire, Pomeroy said. The rest were involuntary.
“All of these employees who were part of this workforce reduction received severance packages tied to years of service,” Pomeroy said. “All will receive outplacement assistance.”
Headquartered in Richmond, Va., Performance Fibers manufactures industrial polyester fiber used in industrial and commercial applications such as tires, conveyor belts, fire hoses and safety belts.
Pomeroy said that while the company has experienced similar layoffs in some of its other locations, “this is not an across-the-board reduction.”
Last November, the Performance Fibers plant here cut ties with its industrial services contractor, the Mundy Companies, eliminating 44 jobs.
Also, in April 2008, the company said it would be reducing production at the Salisbury plant, but it did not disclose how many jobs were affected.
The job losses at Performance Fibers continue a string of tough employment news for Rowan County this month.
Freightliner earlier announced that it would be eliminating 1,290 jobs at its Cleveland truck manufacturing plant effective March 13.
Auto Truck Transport, whose terminal directly relies on production at the Freightliner plant, filed notice with the N.C. Department of Commerce last week that it would lay off up to 150 employees at its Cleveland location effective March 16.
Food Lion announced the immediate elimination this month of 80 jobs at its Salisbury headquarters.