Sea Ray to close Knoxville plant, lay off more than 200 employee

Sea Ray to close Knoxville plant, lay off more than 200 employees

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By JOSH AULT
6 News Reporter

KNOXVILLE (WATE) - The owner of Sea Ray Boats announced Tuesday plans to close their Knoxville plant by the end of 2012.

"It's hard to explain after you been there ten years," said Sea Ray employee Ronda Ellis. "They tell you don't got no job no more. It's like it takes everything away from you."

Brunswick Corporation said they are consolidating the Knoxville location with their Vonore and Palm Coast, Fla. locations to save money as part of a restructuring plan.

The company estimates about 225 people will lose their jobs as part of the move.

Ellis says they told everyone shortly before they were going to close for the day. She says the news was not a big surprise.

"The boat sales have been down," said Ellis. "We had quite a few lay offs in the last few years, and furloughs."

Ellis says they had been building 44 boats a week. Recently that number has dropped to 10 to 12 boats.

The Knoxville plant produces larger cruiser boats. Company executives said sales of larger boats have lagged in recent years.

"While sales of smaller boats, such as popular fishing boats and pontoons have improved, demand for cruisers and larger boats remain weak," CEO Dustan McCoy said in a news release. "The actions announced today are a necessary step in enabling us to reach our near-term operational and financial objectives, while positioning the Company to exploit future market growth in the fiberglass boat segment."

Brunswick officials estimate that closing the Knoxville plant will save the company about $10-12 million per year.

Ellis said some employees may have the opportunity to transfer, but for her all those locations are too far from home.

"I have no idea," said Ellis about what she will do now. She says retirement is not an option for her, "No, I'm just 43."

The full announcement by Brunswick can be viewed here.

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