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Former Mercury Marine employees describe anxiety, confusion after hundreds of layoffs

Posted at 5:29 PM, Jun 17, 2024

FOND DU LAC (NBC 26) — Former employees at Mercury Marine describe anxiety and confusion after hundreds of layoffs at the company's Fond du Lac headquarters.

  • Mercury Marine announced nearly 300 layoffs through July.
  • The company previously laid off more than 100 employees earlier in the year.
  • The company cited "softening of consumer demand" as a reason for layoffs.

(The following is a transcription of the full broadcast story with minor edits for the web.)

I met a former employee who worked as a forklift driver at Mercury for more than a year and a half before being laid off.

He asked us not to identify him.

He said he was laid off in April, when we previously reported Mercury laid off more than 100 employees.

"It was a big stress on me and my family," the employee said.

Last week, Mercury announced another nearly 300 layoffs from now through July.

The former employee said it affected several of his former coworkers and friends.

"They're kind of worried about, is there going to be another, another round after this?" the employee said.

He said many current employees are anxious about their job security.

"It kind of seems like morale is going down, as far as working at Mercury," the employee said.

The employee said he was told he was being laid off because of excess inventory.

In a statement last week, Mercury Marine said it remains one of the largest employers in the Fox Valley, and the layoffs follow "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." (See full statement below)

But, employees I spoke with in person and on the phone said they're confused .

The employee I sat down with told me Mercury Marine held a quarterly meeting with employees the day after he was told he would be laid off.

"They just talked about how well everything's selling and in certain areas, and what they're planning to do in the future, and how they're bringing some of the processes back to mercury and not outsourcing them anymore," the employee said.

The employee said the company didn't mention layoffs in that meeting.

"It just seemed like a shot in the gut, like, 'Oh, you're bringing processes in, but you're laying people off. Like, how does that necessarily work?" the employee said.

I reached out to Mercury Marine again after speaking with this employee, but they said they’re not sharing anything more at this time.

I also spoke with a representative from the union that represents Mercury Marine’s workers, but he declined to comment on the layoffs.

Mercury Marine's statement following announcement of layoffs:

Mercury Marine has announced a reduction in workforce of 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.