Manufacturing sites of Nacco Materials Handling Group (NMHG) in Greenville, North Carolina and Komatsu Forklift USA Inc in Covington, Georgia have reduced their labour force.
"Like all companies, NMHG is facing tough economic times, and we are taking measures to weather the storm," says Christina Kmetko, manager of finance with publicly traded parent firm Nacco Industries Inc in Mayfield Heights, Ohio.
The Greenville site employs about 1,100, but Kmetko declines to quantify the cutback, indicating that NMHG is adjusting staffing levels to meet current end-user demand for the products it makes under the Yale and Hyster brands.
Employees in Greenville learned about the reductions on 21 November.
The cyclical downturn in the forklift capital goods market resulted in lower NMHG orders in the Americas and Europe, according to Nacco's 3 November third-quarter press release. "In addition, material cost increases and foreign currency movements are continuing to affect results negatively."
At the beginning of 2008, NMHG had a backlog of unfilled orders for about 30,500 forklifts, worth about USD668 million. At that time, NMHG expected to substantially fill all of the orders during 2008. The backlog was about 26,000 units as of 30 September.
NMHG employed 6,700 persons as of 31 January.
For now, its wholesale business operates five manufacturing and assembly facilities in the Americas, five in Europe and three in the Asia Pacific, including a Japan joint venture with Sumitomo Heavy Industries Inc.
NMHG said in September it would cut about 90 positions in a Craigavon, Northern Ireland plant. A NMHG facility in Irvine, Scotland was slated for closure in early 2009.
Komatsu's Covington site employs about 100 and manufactures equipment under the Komatsu and Tusk brands. The operation reportedly reduced its work force in October, eliminating about a dozen positions and offering non-disclosure severance packages. The firm declined to confirm the cutback or comment on the reasons.
Komatsu Forklift USA is an operation of publicly traded Komatsu Ltd of Tokyo. Regional subsidiary Komatsu America Corp of Rolling Meadows, Illinois oversees 12 manufacturing facilities and more than 30 corporate entities in the North American market.
Other Komatsu units manufacture forklift trucks in Oyama and Mooka, Japan and, since 2005 in a 10,000 sqm facility, in Jinan, China.