Sea Ray workers talk about plant closure, layoffs

10:08 PM, Oct 9, 2012   |    comments
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Brunswick Corporation, the parent company of Sea Ray, confirmed in a press release Tuesday afternoon that the Knoxville plant will close by the end of the year.  That will leave 225 workers unemployed.

"They just came out and said what they needed to say and that was it. Just come out and said it -- the plant was closing at the end of the year," said Neil McPherson, who works in the manufacturing portion of the plant for 16 years.

Some of those employees at the Forks of the River Industrial Park have worked at the plant for decades.

"What am I going to do with the economy the way it is and everybody owes money to somebody? 'What am I going to do?' is what I thought," said Gary Johnson, who was a Sea Ray employee for nearly three decades.

Brunswick said they are shifting the focus of their business, focusing more on Bowrider and Deckboat models, as well as jet boats.  The Sea Ray plant in Knoxville makes cruisers.

"While sales of smaller boats, such as popular fishing boats and pontoons, have improved, demand for cruisers and larger boats remains weak," said Dustan E. McCoy, Brunswick's chairman and chief executive officer in a press release. "We believe this is due to a number of factors, including continuing economic uncertainty as well as a cautious and evolving consumer."

The company will consolidate operations into its plant in Vonore, as well as plants in Florida and Brazil.

"We would be offered a chance to go and help set up the boats in the Vonore plant, and one or two boats will be going to Florida," Johnson added.

In the last five years, 10News has reported on a number of layoffs in Sea Ray's three plants in Vonore and Knoxville. In 2009, one of those plants closed its doors permanently.

More than 800 workers have lost their jobs at the plant between 2007 and 2010, according to 10News reporting. However, some employees, who will have to start looking for work soon, are still counting their blessings.

"You know something, Sea Ray is not my provider. God is, and that's the most important thing," McPherson said.

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Multiple Sea Ray employees tell 10News that the plant in the Forks of the River industrial park will close later this year.

Those employees say that will leave around 200 employees out of work.

There's no word about Sea Ray's other facility in East Tennessee. 

Sea Ray manufactures boats.

We're gathering more details on this developing story and we'll bring you the latest on 10News at 6 and







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