By Mary Grady, Contributing editor
The folks at Piper Aircraft have been upbeat about the economy, projecting a 75-percent gain in sales this year, but that optimism stumbled a bit on Monday when the company announced it will shut down for a week in August to save money. The brief hiatus "will leave us with our current workforce intact," Steve Johnston, vice president of human resources, told TCPalm. That strategy "will allow us to take advantage of any upside potential in orders between now and the end of the year," he added. The layoff applies to all staffers, including executives, with the exception of those working on the PiperJet program and a few critical business functions, Johnston said.
Piper, based in Vero Beach, Fla., has hired about 300 workers over the last year, after cutting back to under 600 workers in the depths of the downturn. Company officials said they still expect to see the 75-percent gain in sales by the end of the year and don't anticipate any further shutdowns. But Johnston added, "We are continuing to watch the recovery carefully." Piper's deliveries in the first quarter of this year showed a 40-percent gain over the same period last year. The recovery has been bumpy across the industry, with slow gains in aircraft sales seeming to have stopped the downslide, but few signs of a robust return to growth.