After $1.2M grant to expand, 40 jobs cut

Sept. 9, 2011 at 9:29 PM
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KINGSTON, N.Y., Sept. 9 (UPI) -- A solar and semiconductor equipment maker that got $1.2 million from New York state last month to expand its capacity cut its staff by about 40, the firm said.

The job cuts at Precision Flow Technologies' Kingston, N.Y., manufacturing, assembly and testing site were a result of Asian companies delaying product orders, Chief Executive Officer Kevin Brady said.

He told the Daily Freeman of Kingston he blamed the South Korean TV market's "falling short of the growth curve" and China's restrictive economic and monetary policy for delays that brought the company -- a global supplier of process equipment for semiconductor, photovoltaic and light-emitting diode equipment suppliers -- down to 230 employees.

The job cuts are temporary and the employees let go through layoffs, attrition and furloughs will be invited to return when the delayed orders come through, probably by March 2012, Brady said. If the order delay had been only for a couple of months, the company might have been able to stick it out, he said.

Precision Flow, which also operates in Saugerties, N.Y., and Fort Collins, Colo., hired back many of the 42 Kingston employees it furloughed in January due to a similar drop in LED equipment demand, and then added even more employees, Brady said.

"The cycle in these kinds of niche manufacturers in the high-tech space is a little bumpy sometimes," Lance Matteson, president of the Ulster County Development Corp. and chief executive officer of the Ulster County Industrial Development Agency, said after the January furlough.

Company officials were optimistic about their LED business prospects when the workers laid off in January were brought back, but "we were unprepared for the news we were going to get from our customers," Brady told the Freeman.

The New York State Energy Research and Development Authority grant helped Precision Flow's 135,000-square-foot Kingston facility improve material handling and storage, add tool assembly bays and increase administrative and customer space, the state agency said.

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