FOX47 NEWS - Stoughton Trailers Cuts 150 Workers

Jeff Angileri
Feb 9, 2009, 9:13 PM

Stoughton Trailers laid off 150 people this week after the industry's worst sales month since 1990.

The company, which manufactures trailers and flatbeds, says it was a tough decision, but one that had to be made to keep the company as strong as possible.

They just said they were downsizing due to the economy, said Anna Hoff, a 17-year assembler. I watched a lot of people get walked out -- people I've worked with for years.

The company says it was hit hard by the struggling freight industry, skyrocketing transportation costs, and the need to stay competitive.

What people are wanting to move their freight around is just awful, said spokesperson Patrice Gillespie. The tractor, the insurance, the maintenance, the driver fees, etc.

Decreasing fuel does help trucking companies, but it's the competition amongst them, said company president Ken Wahlin. There's a lot of downward pressure on rates. Until that pressure can be relieved, fuel may help a little bit but it won't solve the problem.

Trailer orders are plummeting. December 2008 was the worst month for sales since tracking records began in 1990, according to ACT Research Company. Stoughton trailers is working on tight cash management and focusing on better serving its current clients. Experts says it's a similar theme across the trucking industry.

I think many of them are in survival mode right now, said Wahlin. They're not worried about profits -- they're worried about surviving.

Current Stoughton employees can empathize.

We're still concerned. It hasn't bottomed out yet, said Hoff.

At Monday's news conference, company officials said they hope to bring back many of the laid-off employees if the economy gets better.

Right now, they're predicting 2009 will be worse than last year.

Stoughton Trailers has been in business for almost 50 years. It is the 4th largest truck trailer manufacturer in North America.

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