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Blaming Poor Sales, Sea Ray Lays Off 170 From Palm Coast Plant; Future Uncertain

| September 17, 2010

sea ray palm coast plant flagler county manufacturing

Partly mothballed. (Roger Smith)

Sea Ray, the boat manufacturer and one of Flagler County’s largest and best-paying private employers, laid off 170 workers at its Palm Coast plant on Thursday. That’s at least a third of the plant’s workforce. The lay-offs will have considerable repercussions on a local economy already battered by high unemployment. After falling in summer, local joblessness was on the rise again even before the Sea Ray lay-offs. Figures released Friday put Flagler County’s unemployment rate for August at 16.4 percent, second-worst in the state.

Several local parts manufacturers and lumber yards depend on Sea Ray for big chunks of business. And while Sea Ray is not as large an employer as Palm Coast Data, which has about 1,000 employees, Sea Ray’s median salaries are more than double those at Palm Coast Data, which fall closer to the minimum wage.

One year ago, the Palm Coast plant employed 270. That number rose last spring, when the boat manufacturer geared up for the summer season and was expecting to sell six boats per week from the plant. The boats didn’t sell at that pace, however, and backed up the company’s inventory. At its height in the middle of the last decade, the plant was producing a dozen boats per week.

Attention Sea Ray Employees:

  • Past or present, share your stories, or email FlaglerLive at Your confidence will be respected. Sea Ray or Brunswick: We’d love to hear from you as well. You owe this community a little more than caginess.

Sea Ray workers were told of the lay-offs Thursday afternoon in several groups by their building managers from the plant’s fabrication, assembly and lamination buildings. The meetings were only a few minutes long. Those who were laid off were told that the plant will be building four boats per week until at least the end of the year, necessitating the layoffs, and that “when we need you, your supervisor has the option to call you back.”

Supervisors then escorted them back to their work areas where they handed in their identification and company keys (if they had any) and picked up their personal items, then walked out to the parking lot, where they were required to hand in their yellow vehicle window stickers that identify them as employees, so they would opt be able to return. The news was somber but not unexpected: many workers had been in and out of employment at the plant, and many more had been revolving through several jobs over the past few years, trying to hold on to work.

Many of the laid-off workers were not directly employed by Sea Ray, but by Aerotek, the national staffing agency through which Sea Ray has been employing many of its workers. (The arrangement enables companies with seasonal or uncertain employment terms to avoid the bureaucracy that comes along with hiring full-time employees. Aerotek assumes that bureaucracy and actually signs employees’ checks.)

The lay-offs are distinct from the company’s usual furloughs, which take place in July (July 16 to 24 last summer) and December (Dec. 16 to Jan. 3), and from the rotation some workers were on last year—working one week and being off three. The difference this time is that the lay-offs are open-ended. The same day, Sea Ray, which is based in Knoxville but owned by Lake Forest, Ill.-based Brunswick Corp., announced that it was furloughing 600 employees at two plants in Tennessee on Oct. 4, months before the usual winter furloughs.

Locally, Sea Ray has been the beneficiary of generous county and state subsidies. In 2007, the company threatened to leave the county if planned developments were to proceed in its neighborhood. To entice it to stay, the county agreed, among other things, to build a  3,000-foot road extension from Roberts Road to Colbert Lane for the company,  at taxpayers’ expense. The $2 million in state and local dollars included $300,000 from Flagler County taxpayers. At the time, the Sea Ray plant employed some 700 people.

At an internal Chairman’s Award ceremony about a month ago, employees were told that Brunswick had considered shuttering the Palm Coast plant and moving the operation to Sykes Creek on Merritt Island, just south of Titusville. Employees were told that because of the very low number of warranty claims against boats manufactured at the Palm Coast plant–a sign of quality manufacturing that saves the company large sums of money–the plan to move the operation was dropped. But it wasn’t the first time, nor is it likely to be the last, that Brunswick has considered shuttering the plant.

Repeated calls to the Brunswick about Thursday’s layoffs office were not returned.

At the end of July, Brunswick’s 16 boat brands reported net sales of $296.6 million for the second quarter of 2010, an increase of 114 percent compared with $138.8 million in the second quarter of 2009, but an operating loss of $23.6 million. That compares with an operating loss of $107.9 million in the second quarter of 2009.

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31 Responses for “Blaming Poor Sales, Sea Ray Lays Off 170 From Palm Coast Plant; Future Uncertain”

  1. starfyre says:

    theyre going to tennesee

    why stay in palm coast when the local goverment wants to strong arm everyone

    this is all local governments fault

  2. Robert says:

    What are Flagler County, the City of Palm Coast and Enterprise Flagler doing to retain this company?

    An article in today’s Daytona News Journal reports that the town council of Palm Coast believes the city manager is worth every dollar he is paid and is doing an “outstanding” job.



  4. Alex says:

    I am confident, Enterprise Flagler and The Tea Party people will find a solution! Right?

  5. Alex says:

    Enterprise Flagler should be decommissioned and given a decent funeral.

  6. Barbara Taylor says:

    The SUMMER OF RECOVERY just gets better everyday. Why is it everyone wants to criticize the tea party movement. What polices have they made? The real problem is who is in office now. The largest tax increase in history is to take effect January 1. Why is everyone so upset about Brunswick losing money? Don’t we all hate big business because they do not pay their fair share of taxes? Maybe the money saved from these layoffs will help them pay their tax increase next year.

  7. Dorothea says:

    Barbara Taylor, try some orange juice, not Republican Kool Aid for breakfast. If Congress doesn extend the current tax base, due to expire at the end of the year, then taxes will rise to the 2001-2003 level. However with the Republicans trying to make political points and dragging their heels, it hasn’t come to a vote. So put your blame where it belongs. The big bone of contention is raising taxes on those who net over $250,000 a year. If Brunswick is losing money, they don’t net over $250,000 a year.

  8. Kip Durocher says:

    I do not know why everyone criticizes the tea party movement, I know my own reasons. There are several: It is racist as hell with a thin veneer of civility on the issue. It is mostly scared white people who want to keep more of their money ~ they want the best government services in their gated communities but want others to pay for it -a la flat tax ~ increase sales tax ~ just not on their personal stock dividends. They desperately want to blame Obama for not fixing in 2 years what it took bush light and his criminal gang 8 years to screw up. Bush should be sent to The Hauge for starting an illegal war of agression. The British are taking tony blair to task for blindly following bush light. We here should follow their lead.
    “The largest tax increase in history is to take effect January 1 “sorry, but that accolade goes to george h. w. bush and his cohorts ~ remember ~ “read my lips” ~ that’s the one.

  9. Barbara Taylor says:

    It’s Bush’s fault is getting old! Obama and the democrats are spending this country into destruction. Democrats control the house the senate. Trying to blame Republicans for the last 18 months of this disaster won’t work . They all but powerless to stop much of anything.
    Please show the proof of this racist tea party you love to hate. Where is it? I think there is a $100,000 reward for anyone who can proof it during health care bill and the black caucus claims of being spit on.

  10. Dorothea says:

    To Barbara Taylor:

    It took Bush eight years to financially destroy this country. The truth may be old, but expecting anyone to bring us back from financial disaster in less than two years is just plain stupidity. If the Republicans don’t get their way, they can filibuster in the Senate, which they are threatening to do to any tax bill that doesn’t take us back to the old failed Republican theory of trickle down economics.

  11. August says:

    YEEHAW! 99 weeks of unemployment, food stamps, free health care, and kids get free breakfast & lunch in schools….America, what a great country!

  12. "actually signs employees’ checks" says:

    if u work for a temp service, u are their employee, so obviously they are the one’s paying u.every temp agency does that. the client pays the temp agency and the temp agency pays u

  13. PC MAN says:

    1 starfyre why would they move to Tennessee did you not notice that 600 are being furloughed there ?
    2 Barbara Taylor do you not remember 8 years of blaming Bill Clinton for eveything ?

    To me the big story was Palm Coast Data paying min wage. Well no wonder you have a thousand people, they are getting teenager money. They should be embarassed by that. I wish some of our elected officials had the balls to call these bullshit companies on their record of low wage jobs instead of just cutting ribbons with the Chamber douch bags.

  14. Barbara Taylor says:

    When you keep lowering the standards for anything, failure is sure to follow. Democrats forced banks to keep lowering their lending standards to insure more people could “Live the American dream”. I realize it is easy to blame Bush for the financial problems this country is in. Yet,the real problem is we keep lowering the standards for everything in this country and it’s starting show. We have a man in the Oval Office that is the least qualified person to run the country when he enters any meeting he attends.
    The New Deal did not get this country out of the depression, World War II did. Japans lost decade was prolonged with all the government spending it did. Now this $1 trillion goat scr*w of stimulus has been nothing more than a waste of tax payers money.Unemployment just keeps raising in this state and the country.
    I was pretty young when Ronald Reagen was President.Did he blame Jimmy Carter and the Democrats daily or did put this country back to work?

  15. Imagine says:

    Clinton signed the NAFTA bill six months into his presidency. Nuff said. We cannot spend our way out of this mess. The only economy that would recover is that of China and Japan.

  16. Dorothea says:

    Barbara Taylor,

    Trillions of dollars spent on a war in Iraq, a war based on a lie about so-called weapons of mass destruction, did not get us out of the financial disaster, it got us into it. Don’t forget when Bush took office the budget was balanced. The housing disaster was caused by greedy lenders giving sub-prime mortgages when Bush lifted many of the banking regulations. Florida is run by Republicans who still haven’t learned that you can’t lower taxes and have that money “trickle down” to the middle class. It just doesn’t happen. The result is always that the rich get richer and the middle class disappears.

    Reagan put the country back to work? You have to be kidding. One of the country’s biggest recessions came from Reagan’s trickle down economics when this false economic theory put the high tech industry out of work. The high tech industry did not come back until Bill Clinton took office. The personal computer has been on the market since the late seventies, but people couldn’t afford to buy them until the economy came back on track after Clinton took office.

    Japan’s economic problems were different. In order for Japanese products to compete and undercut foreign products, the Japanes government gave its industries money in order to lower their export prices.

    Jobs in the private sector are slowly increasing. Unfortunately, Florida will be among the last to receive a real boost to the economy because the state is run by a regressive, backward thinking bunch of politicians and because its economy depends on tourism, and the wealth or lack thereof, of visitors from outside the state.

  17. Kevin says:


    How much was the Iraq war as a percentage of what the current utopian administration’s deficit is? By the way, what did the major indexes do since Bush took office, taking reins just as Obama did, of a tanking market, imploding from internet and tech? By the way How much of TARP accounted for the deficit you mention. Then after you find that out, deduct out how much TARP was paid back from the numbers you abuse and manipulate. I think it better for people to research the findings from the KATO Institute before relying on your half-baked analysis.

    While debt increased during the Reagan years mostly due to defense spending, real median family income grew, interest rates fells from nose bleed levels, inflation was brought into check due to peanut boy’s admin, and most importantly tax cuts of 1981 which I recall studying at the time led to one of the greatest sustained economic expansions in our history. But let’s not get bogged down with these trivial facts, let’s focus on the future and the here and now and the detrimental impact due to the current policies and conduct of this administration and our elected officials which has brought the working man out of his house to see what all the trouble is.

    Bush derangement syndrome seems to be thriving in your mind no matter how much evidence exists that we have a Manchurian candidate in the Whitehouse. A man who is American by technicality, but every bit a socialist-leaning, progressive liberal, with the mindset of a foreign dignitary from the middle East, out to punish Caucasians for the sins of others, and spending taxpayer money in the largest vote buying hustle ever seen in the history of homo sapiens.

    You go girlwith your bad-self.

  18. Merrill says:

    It sure is nice that Senator Bill Nelson is working to keep all those jobs on the Space Coast. How about some help up here? The Army is looking for approximately 55 Riverine or Patrol style boats to conduct water interdiction, river denial and island clearance missions, troop transport and insertion on a regular basis. Can our Senator help get a contract for Sea Ray?

  19. Dorothea says:

    Kevin, you do all the math. Don’t put it on me to prove your point.

    I can assure you that the Reagan years led to a profound failure caused by the trickle down theory of economics and that there was a major recession as a result and major unemployment. I don’t know what schools are teaching if they tell you otherwise, but they are very, very wrong.

    The Clinton burst tech bubble was the result of many investing in a variety of speculative internet businesses. Many of these businesses survived and are thriving today. You might call it a business survival of the fittest. Many weren’t very fit and went bust. But this economic downturn hardly compares with the worst recession since the Great Depression, a recession that has its roots in the failed economic policies of the Bush administration.

    It would be nice to just wipe the slate clean and start our economy over again. But economics don’t work that way. The working “man’s” problems started long before “he” came out of his house, or should I say was thrown out of “his” house and took notice.

    Your description of Obama is ludicrous. But I have reconciled myself to the fact that you are beyond reasonable thought when it comes to Obama.

  20. Barbara Taylor says:

    Being that Sea Ray does not belong to a union, I doubt their will be any help from this administration.

  21. poseidon says:

    who cares,crappy boats

  22. Imagine says:

    Poseidon, who cares? I care. Sea Ray is a company that needs to remain in Flagler County. We need manufacturers and assemblers. Without these companys what are we left with? Part time employment from Target, Kohls, Wal-mart at $7.35 an hour . maybe if you are lucky you will get 10 hours a week. That comes out to $73.50 a week. Wow almost $300.00 a month. Good luck with that.

    Sea Ray manufactures a beautiful vessle.

  23. Kip Durocher says:

    Sad for the people facing the holidays with this over them. This would be an excellent thing for Enterprise Flagler to step into. They could help these folks prepare to dust off resumes and get ready to look. Working with Adult Education they might be able to help.

  24. Kip Durocher says:

    You were doing real good until the last paragraph. then you just rocketed out into the UFO and ghost quadrent. Good post ruined by that last bit of extremist Republican dogma.
    Regan, were he not asleep at cabinet meetings, should have noticed that the Soviet Union was collapsing under it’s own mold. Almost as large an intelligence failure than not connecting the dots on 9/11. Had he seen this super nova going on he could have cancelled all the mass defense $s and put them to better use. Any moral scientist will tell anyone that “star wars” was foolish. It does not matter if the bomb blows up in your lap or in the stratosphere 1/2 way over the Atlantic Ocean. The problem is blowing the bombs up ~ anywhere around the big blue marble. Many of the leading scientists of the time refused star wars grant money on this grounds alone, and sent an open letter to regan telling him so. We can just leave out his constitution shreadding Arms For the Contras Program and his “I just don’t remember ” under oath fibs.

  25. Rudy Smith says:

    Well, all said it is a sad day for our county, the city of Palm Coast and the workers at Sea Ray. Beware, the beginning is near.

  26. poseidon of flaglerchat says:

    The person posting with the name poseidon is not me. This is the real poseidon. I dont want you to think that post was me, it is an impostor.

  27. Hey…don’t bother coming to Tennessee to work for Brunswick/Sea Ray/ or US Marine…we are all getting either fired for BS reasons, or furloughed/laidoff…or the ones left working too much overtime to be healthy
    and when or if they do get back to work…will have to repay all the health benefit premiems paid out while on furlough…things suck everywhere !!!!!!!!!

  28. Kip Durocher says:

    @Barbara Taylor
    “I was pretty young when Ronald Reagen(sic) was President. Did he blame Jimmy Carter and the Democrats daily or did put this country back to work?”
    No he did not do either. He mostly slept through all the meetings he attended, ate jelly beans and made stupid remarks when ever he went off script. “We are now bombing Russia into oblivion”, on live national radio was one of his biggiest bloopers.
    Consulted his astrologer Jeane Dixon on what bills to sign and not sign and when to leave the White House. He shredded the US Constitution to ruin with his arms to the contras crimes and the lied about it to congress (” i just don’t remember what happened last week”) when they tried to investigate his crimes. He topped it all off by giving his backers (defense industry) trillions of dollars to “star war” the join up. All the while failing to realize that the whole Soviet Union was crumbling under it’s own mold.
    Ronnie Raygun will not go down in history as the worst president, that honor is reserved for nixon, but he will be in the bottom five whith bush light. I believe he also holds the record for cabinet members resigning for various crimes, frauds, and racist remarks.
    He was recruited because he was an actor. THE PRESIDENT was his biggest role. Too bad for the US that he did not stick to the monkey movies he made.
    p.s. his name is really spelled reagan

  29. A laid off worker says:

    At the Palm Coast plant there is to much politics being played. To many people with 15-25 years with the company.They are the ones dragging the company down. The managers and supervisors give them special treatment, more O.T. They need to clean house in the management area.Fresh blood couldn’t hurt.This not just my opinion is the thoughts of many of the other workers too.

  30. Anonymous says:

    layoffw you got that right

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