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Mercury Marine to lay off nearly 300 workers at Fond du Lac headquarters

Mercury Marine announces layoffs at their Fond du Lac headquarters. June 14, 2024.

Posted on June 17, 2024

Mercury Marine is laying off nearly 300 workers in Fond du Lac and making workforce “adjustments” at other facilities.

The boat engine builder says the layoffs are a result of a decrease in boat sales.

“I think when you look at the overall economy — not only the state of Wisconsin, but throughout the nation right now, a lot of people are struggling with increased health insurance costs, rent for example, mortgage payments, and I think people are just prioritizing now what they’re spending their money on,” said Fond du Lac County Executive Sam Kaufman.

“Obviously boats, engines, are one of those items that are not a priority. So, as I watch Mercury now over the last year, I’ve seen somewhat of a trend where their product is now being stockpiled, they have a lot of inventory to sell off of. And to me this was a turn that did not shock,” Kaufman added.

Mercury Marine is the largest employer in Fond du Lac. Although company officials say the nearly 300 layoffs is less than 10% of their 3,500 total employees — for those families, it’s anything but a small impact.

Mercury Marine announces layoffs at their Fond du Lac headquarters. June 14, 2024.

“Any family that I know that’s gone through a situation like this before, it’s a difficult time for the family because now the panic sets in. How are we going to pay next month’s bills? How are we going to do things for our kids? How about the summer vacations that they’re going to try to plan?” Kaufman said.

FOX 11 spoke with a former Mercury Marine employee, who declined to go on camera. She said layoffs happen every few years as the economy fluctuates. In fact, she herself was laid off from Mercury Marine in 2009.

Now, as an employee at a boat service center in town, she too can tell that boat sales are way down. She says they’re almost exclusively helping customers fix up old boats so they don’t have to buy new ones.

Mercury Marine has announced a reduction in workforce of close to 300 employees at its Fond du Lac global headquarters, which will take place now through July, as well as some adjustments to overall operations in Wisconsin, St. Cloud, Florida, and Juarez, Mexico. These actions were taken due to softening of consumer demand in some of our markets mainly as a result of continued high interest rates and near-term reductions in boat production by Mercury’s boat builder partners. Mercury Marine’s industry-leading products continue to gain market share around the world but at this time this is not sufficient to fully offset the overall market headwinds. Mercury remains one of the largest employers in the Fox Valley, and in the state of Wisconsin, with more than 3,500 full-time employees in Fond du Lac, and accounts for $5B in annual economic impact to the Fond du Lac Community,” a statement from the company says.

The company confirmed the legitimacy of a memo, dated Thursday, provided to FOX 11 by an employee, which said the 252 layoffs at Plant 15 are effective July 26.

A layoff notice for Mercury Marine, dated June 13, 2024.

Mercury Marine noted other companies in the sector have also laid off workers. For example, BRP in Sturtevant, laid off nearly 300 workers last month. According to media reports, Minnesota-based Alumnacraft and Missouri-based Tracker have also laid off workers.

Kaufman says the county has programs to help those who may be now looking for new work. He also says there are several positions within the county government that need to be filled.

Mercury Marine has an economic impact that reaches into the billions for the local economy.

“I’m just glad it’s not worse. They’re our biggest employer, we very much appreciate them being here and all their investment in the county, but being that they employ 3,400 people and they’ve laid off 250, it’s unfortunate but again I’m glad were not talking a thousand people,” Kaufman said.


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