Layoffs and furloughs at Daniel Defense - WTOC-TV: Savannah, Beaufort, SC, News, Weather & Sports

Layoffs and furloughs at Daniel Defense

By Tim Guidera - bio | email

SAVANNAH, GA (WTOC) - Bryan County weapons manufacturer, Daniel Defense, was forced to reduce its work force by roughly 20 percent because production of guns has outpaced sales in recent months.

Daniel Defense moved into a new plant and added positions just two months ago, but for owner Marty Daniel, it was a numbers matter.

"It's basically a problem where the dealers were overstocked and the distributors were overstocked," said Daniel. "And now they have to work through that inventory before they start ordering again."

So the company that makes tactical-style weapons also had to change the way it works.

Just two months after moving into a new plant and adding positions, Daniel Defense has laid off 26 of its 124 employees and required another 68 to take one-week unpaid furloughs.

"Our sales are down dramatically in June and July and so we have taken a look at the situation and we have taken this opportunity to restructure, cut some expenses and become more efficient,'' said Daniel. "We've been driving our production down and now we've got our production down to what we're selling, which is important."

The move was forced by what Daniel called a standard summertime slowdown in gun sales and two military contracts that represent half of the company's business being between orders.

But for a young company that has grown up with many of its employees, this was more than just numbers.

Daniel said he could tell for as long as a month from a business standpoint that these layoffs would be necessary, but it took him this long to eliminate positions because he felt doing so was as much a personal decision.

"Oh it's tough. It was a tough call,'' he said. "All of our management here, we do things together with our employees once a month and get to know them. So we care about our employees.''

And he hopes to rehire as many of them as possible when he sees a turnaround, saying the timing of one is more predictable in his business than for the economy as a whole.

"We expect that to happen in late August or September, when kids go back to school and guys start thinking about buying guns again," said Daniel, who left for England Wednesday afternoon to discuss new orders with the country's ministry of defense. "Contracts coming in will bring people in. Increased sales, I'm certain we'll be bringing people in if that happens as I suspect.

"Most of the people that were laid off were people that live around here. Our hope is to bring as many back as we can and we feel like that will be necessary."

Daniel has been in business for 24 and says this is the first time he has laid off employees.

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