Johnson Outdoors Inc. is closing two plants, which will cut 69 jobs, as it shifts rotational molding of its plastic kayaks and canoes in an effort to boost profitability.
Johnson will move production from its Mansonville, Quebec, plant to a site in Old Town, Maine, the publicly traded company announced July 27.
The firm also said it will outsource manufacturing currently done at its Grand Rapids, Mich., facility to KL Industries Inc. in Muskegon, Mich.
KL is a division of Ameriform Inc., a Muskegon plastics processor previously known as Thermoformed Products Inc.
Johnson, based in Racine, Wis., said KL will manufacture Johnson's Escape, Waterquest and Rogue River products.
Johnson's Watercraft division, which also markets canoes, kayaks and paddles under the Old Town, Ocean Kayak, Necky Kayak and Carlisle brands, reported a decline in net sales from $31.6 million to $29 million for the quarter ended July 2.
Helen Johnson-Leopold, chairman and chief executive officer of Johnson, said that a leaner Watercraft will showcase the company's brand names and allow the firm to remain competitive.
``The changes reflect our continued effort to reduce costs and complexity,'' she said in a July 29 conference call.
``We will be more competitive, more flexible and more focused on driving the business, not fixing the business - going forward.''
Chief Operating Officer Jerry Perkins said economic factors are not the only reason for the drop in sales.
``Excess capacity and weak sales have driven prices down in a soft consumer market. But that doesn't excuse the sizable losses we've had this year due to our own operational inefficiencies.
``We've addressed the biggest sales and profitability issues in Watercraft by shutting down manufacturing in our central and Canadian operations,'' he said. ``Outsourcing watercraft central production lets us focus resources on building the brands, not building the boat.''
Meanwhile, Johnson has announced plans to buy all of its outstanding shares and take the company private. The company also makes other outdoor products, including marine motors and fish finders, battery chargers and tents.
Johnson employs 1,500 across its 26 locations worldwide. The company reported sales of $315.9 million in 2003.