The slowing North American auto industry and consumers' move away from trucks is prompting Penda Corp. to close one of its two U.S. thermoforming lines that make pickup-truck bedliners.
The company will shut down extrusion and most of its thermoforming in Lapeer, Mich., cutting about 112 jobs by July 17, Penda officials announced May 12.
The move comes less than six months after Penda, based in Portage, Wis., merged with Lapeer-based Durakon Industries Inc., and as vehicle sales have fallen globally. In the U.S., auto sales have dropped by 37.4 percent overall this year, with pickup-truck sales falling by 43.4 percent compared with 2008.
We are forced to implement significant capacity reductions to balance our supply with the new demand reality in the North American automotive industry and reduce our overhead costs to stay competitive, Penda President and CEO Ulf Buergel said in a news release.
Executives said they believe the U.S. auto market has undergone a structural change with the consumer shift to smaller cars, away from the trucks that were the core of the heavy-gauge thermoforming business for Penda. Business will not return to the level needed to sustain separate plants in both Michigan and Wisconsin, they said.
Penda will retain a smaller manufacturing line in Lapeer focused on thermoforming using paint film and keep a design, engineering and prototype facility in Lapeer, although it will sell the main building there. The company also does molding at a former Durakon site in Lerma, Mexico.