Burdened with the telecommunications market collapse, Lamson & Sessions Co. temporarily has halted most production at two plants in Erie, Pa., and Tennille, Ga.
``As volume picks back up, our intent is to bring those plants back up. None is shuttered permanently,'' said John Schulze, Lamson's chairman, president and chief executive officer.
The late-March move affects about 50 employees, all in high density polyethylene conduit and pipe production.
The plants are not shut down completely; the company occasionally is making certain products in Erie and Tennille that it does not make in other plants, according to Schulze.
Beachwood-based Lamson & Sessions operated 13 lines in Erie. The company will continue running corrugated HDPE products on three lines there. Five of eight lines were shuttered in Tennille, and Lamson will continue producing larger-diameter HDPE pipe on the other three lines. The firm operates two other HDPE extrusion facilities, in Mount Grove, Mo., and Woodland, Calif.
Publicly held Lamson recently reported that its first-quarter sales dropped 23 percent, primarily because of less telecommunications infrastructure work. Its HDPE production facilities ran at only 35-40 percent of capacity, compared with 65-70 percent for the same period a year earlier.
Capital investment in the telecom market collapsed last year, and predicting when a recovery will come has been sticky.
``The rebound keeps getting pushed out,'' Schulze said in a May 6 interview at Lamson's headquarters. ``We had originally said the second half of 2002. We're now seeing some increases in volume, but not anything of any significance. We're really looking now at 2003; some people are saying 2004.''
Schulze said Lamson is saving nearly $8 million annually with all the cost reductions officials have made during the past six months, which included a November layoff of 7 percent of its salaried staff. According to its 2001 annual report, Lamson employed 1,115 at the end of last year.
Lamson reported 2001 sales of nearly $353 million, with $222 million in extrusion, down from $310 million in 2000 extrusion sales.