Closing Ferndale plant
J.O. consolidates Watercraft operations, plans closure of Ferndale, Wash., plant

Johnson Outdoors announced Tuesday that it is consolidating operations for its paddlesports brands in Old Town, Maine by the end of September in an effort to improve profitability of its Watercraft business unit. The decision will result in the closure of the company's plant in Ferndale, Washington and a reduction of about 90 positions located there. The consolidation is anticipated to yield annual cost-savings of more than $4 million beginning in fiscal 2010.

"Our focus is on transforming Watercraft into a stronger, more competitive and cash-generating business which is better positioned for growth in the future," said Chairman and CEO Helen Johnson-Leipold. "I am confident we are doing what is right to drive marketplace success for our brands, improve profitability for Watercraft and Johnson Outdoors long-term, and by doing so, enhance shareholder value."

Transformation of the J.O. Watercraft division began in March when the company merged leadership of its Watercraft and Marine Electronics divisions under a single group vice president. In May, brand sales for the two business units were combined and Watercraft marketing was restructured. As a result of the action announced Tuesday from J.O. VP of Worldwide Communication Cynthia Georgeson, all Watercraft production, related business support and customer service will be integrated and operating at Old Town before the end of December. The company will be providing severance to employees whose positions have been eliminated as a result.

Old Town, Maine, was selected as hub of operations for the Watercraft division—which includes Old Town canoes and kayaks, Ocean Kayak, Necky kayaks, Lendal paddles, Carlisle and Extrasport—due to its manufacturing capability and capacity for expansion. The company currently maintains two sites in Old Town but will vacate its century-old mill site and transfer all operations into one location after conversion of its modern distribution and warehouse center is finished later this year. An estimated additional 48 jobs will be created in Old Town once consolidation is completed.