Monday, July 30, 2007 Time:7:21:58 AMEST
Sino doles out pink slips
By NAOMI SMOOT / Journal Staff Writer
MARTINSBURG Sino Swearingen Aircraft officials confirmed Friday that a number of employees from the Martinsburg plant were let go this week, but wouldnt confirm the number of layoffs.
Early Friday morning, The Journal received an e-mail from an employee who wished to remain anonymous, who said that 43 workers were laid off Thursday at Sinos facility near the Eastern West Virginia Regional Airport. The employee also said that employees from the San Antonio plant also had been laid off. At one time, more than 100 people were employed at the Martinsburg plant.
Mark Fairchild, Sinos vice president of marketing and sales, said that employees were let go from the plant, as well as the companys base of operations in San Antonio, but refrained from commenting on how many people were affected.
Weve had some restrictions throughout the company, he said Friday.
The employees were terminated as part of an effort to restructure the entire corporation, he said. Sino recently hired a new president and CEO, and officials are continuing to look for new investors for the business. The Taiwanese government, which has invested more than $600 million in Sino, also has sent members of its Aerospace Industrial Development Corp. to examine operations at both the companys Texas facility and its Martinsburg plant in recent weeks, Fairchild said.
Were trying to get streamlined, he said.
Fairchild denied claims that the company has plans to close either of its facilities, though there is the possibility that some of the work could be moved to Taiwan, he said.
Some detailed parts might go to Tawain, he said, adding that, The Taiwanese have funded the program for quite some time. Theyve put in over $600 million and this might be a way to give back some money and jobs.
U.S. Sen. Jay Rockefeller, D- W.Va., who was instrumental in helping to bring the company to Martinsburg, said he foresees bright skies ahead for the company.
Theres no question that Sino is producing an incredible business jet, and I continue to be optimistic about its future. Sino remains a strong and viable business venture, he said in a statement Friday.
The company, Fairchild noted, already has shipped at least one of its SJ30 aircraft, which is being called the fastest business jet of its kind. There are other signs that the future may be bright for the company as well, and there are no plans to close the doors at either of its locations, he said.
There are no plans of shutting the company down, either here (in Texas) or in Martinsburg, he said.
This weeks layoffs are not the first bump in the road for Sino. In last August, shortly after announcing plans to expand the companys San Antonio facility, pink slips were issued to nearly 50 Sino employees in Martinsburg, and as many as 100 in San Antonio. Since then, media outlets around the world have reported that the Taiwanese government may be weighing the possibility of pulling the plug on the operation.