Titan International Inc. has responded to decreased demand in its markets by laying off some employees at its technical center in Akron and wheel plant in Saltville, Va.
The company also saw its corporate credit rating lowered a degree by Standard & Poor's Ratings Service.
The layoffs at the tech center, where the Quincy-based tire and wheel company does much of its research and development work, affects six to eight employees, said Maurice Taylor Jr., Titan president and CEO. The temporary cuts are scheduled to end at the beginning of 2003, he said.
``These are mainly retired guys acting as consultants,'' Taylor said. ``I told them to take a couple months off.''
The main reason the layoffs were implemented in Akron is Titan has designed at least 100 new tires for the agriculture, construction and consumer markets each of the past two years. And with demand at the level it is, the company is more concerned with making those tires than with coming up with new ones, Taylor said.
In Saltville, about 50 employees have been laid off indefinitely, he said. The construction industry is looking at a 15-percent demand cut into next year, and until that changes, any on-the-spot orders can be filled via Titan's Quincy wheel facility, Taylor said.
``One thing we've learned is you don't build a large inventory in the wheel business,'' he said. ``We do a lot of special orders.''
Meanwhile, Standard & Poor's announced Nov. 11 it lowered Titan's corporate credit rating to ``B-'' from ``B.'' The diminished outlook is based on the depressed conditions in the firm's end markets and uncertainty on the timing of a return to profitability, the rating agency said.
Weak markets are expected to depress the company's financial performance through the rest of 2002 and into 2003, Standard & Poor's said.
The outlook for Titan is stable, reflecting the agency's expectation of enhanced financial performance for the company when end market demand improves.
In its most recent financial statement released Oct. 31, Titan reported an operating loss of $7.81 million on net sales of $104.7 million for the third quarter. For the nine-month period, Titan posted an operating loss of $2.74 million and a net loss of $20.1 million on sales of $354.2 million.