NEW BEDFORD, Mass. (Aug. 16)—Acushnet Rubber Co. plans to drop several of its businesses to focus primarily on its core O-ring and seal ring production, cutting 500 New Bedford jobs in the process. The New Bedford-based rubber manufacturer announced the restructuring Aug. 9, saying the shake-up was caused by the lingering automotive industry downturn, price wars with competitors, and "unprofitable ventures" into additional markets. Layoffs won't begin for at least 60 days following the announcement, but then will continue into the first half of next year. When the cuts are finished, employment at Acushnet will be down to about 150 people. The company 's work force climbed above 1,000 in 1997 and stayed at about that level for two years, but has fallen since then.