A downturn in the construction industry is leading to more job losses at a Lawrence manufacturer.
Sauer-Danfoss announced late Wednesday afternoon that it would cut up to 20 jobs at its Lawrence plant in the East Hills Business Park.
The company makes transmission parts for various pieces of construction equipment.
“The economy is not that good right now,” said Beth Johnson, senior vice president for economic development for the Lawrence Chamber of Commerce. “But one of the things we’re particularly seeing is that any company or offshoot of an industry that deals with construction is being hit.
“I think we’ll continue to see that.”
The layoffs come on the heels of two other East Hills businesses — Amarr Garage Doors and Progress Vanguard — announcing layoffs within the last two months.
Progress Vanguard is closing its Lawrence plant. Progress is owned by the Caterpillar Corp., which this week announced it was cutting 20,000 positions companywide. Caterpillar’s woes may be affecting Sauer-Danfoss as well. Caterpillar is a large customer for Sauer-Danfoss, Johnson said.
Attempts to reach a spokesman with Sauer-Danfoss were not immediately successful Wednesday afternoon. But the company did announce in December that it planned to reduce shifts for about a third of the plant’s employees. The plant manager had said that the reduced shifts would affect about 50 of the plant’s approximately 150 employees.
Sauer-Danfoss made that move in response to the operational shifts of a customer that shut down its own production for January.
In a press release on Wednesday, the company said it saw “no near-term improvement in demand” for its products.
Johnson said despite the layoffs, she believes the company is still strongly committed to continuing operations in Lawrence.
“Even with this layoff, they are still one of the larger employers in Lawrence,” Johnson said. “I believe this plant is very important to their operations.”
The company came to Lawrence in the 1990s, and at times has had 170 or more employees, according to past tax abatement reports filed with the city.
The company was granted an 80 percent tax abatement for about $23 million in investments it made at the East Hills Business Park, but that abatement reached its 10-year term and expired at the end of 2008.