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Craig McEwen, Published April 08 2009

DMI slashes 100 jobs

Wind tower manufacturer DMI terminated another 100 workers Monday, just weeks after North Dakota Rep. Earl Pomeroy touted a job-producing federal economic stimulus package at its West Fargo plant.

Monday’s job cuts, combined with another 60 made in January, leave about 200 people employed at the West Fargo plant, said Belinda Forknell, marketing and public relations spokesperson for DMI.

Declining product demand resulted in DMI eliminating its 12-hour, three-day weekend work shift. Two weekday shifts will continue to operate, she said.

“The credit market is just continuing to affect wind energy developers. They are not able to secure project financing and, of course, that’s delaying the development of their projects,” she said.

Pomeroy held a news conference at the DMI plant on March 13, outlining how economic stimulus package investments could help the wind power industry.

A the time, DMI hadn’t anticipated more job cuts, DMI President Stefan Nilsson, said Tuesday.

There were signs that delivery projections were changing, he said.

Credits markets started freezing up late last fall and funding became unavailable for wind farm developers, he said.

DMI had to adjust its workforce to meet future delivery schedules, he said.

It’s difficult to tell when things might improve, said Nilsson.

“We believe that the full benefit of the stimulus package will take affect within the next two to three months,” Pomeroy said Tuesday. “When it does take affect, we think wind farm development is going to pick up and some of these people will be back to work.”

“I think we’re still optimistic about what the stimulus package will do,” said Nilsson.

Once stimulus financing becomes available, however, there may still be a 6- to 9-month lag until DMI sees plant workload improve, he said.

“That starts in the front end by resolving some of the credit issues that those that develop wind farms are facing. That sort of has to propagate from the bankers, to the wind farm developers to the wind turbine manufacturers to us.” Nilsson said.

DMI employees terminated Monday were offered severance packages based on seniority and other factors, Forknell said.

Cuts were also made at facilities in Tulsa, Okla., and Fort Erie, Ont., she said.

DMI welder Mark Brown said Tuesday that he was upset with the way his termination was handled.

“They waited until one hour left of our weekend shift to tell us we had to come in the next day to get fired,” he said. “I think HR and management should find a better way to dismiss their people.”

There’s no good way to terminate employees, Nilsson said.

“Obviously it’s not something that we hope to do again,” he said.


Readers can reach Forum Business Editor Craig McEwen at (701) 241-5502