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Foundry Daily News

03. August 2008

USA - Grede lands Daimler contract, but lays off workers

Milwaukee-based Grede Foundries Inc. today announced that it has secured a $45 million order to produce heavy truck axle castings for export to Daimler Truck's assembly plants in Germany, but the company still is reportedly laying off employees.

Those castings would be made at Grede's plants in Reedsburg, Wis.; New Castle, Ind.; and St. Cloud, Minn. Grede said it also anticipates finalizing another $20 million in sales to European customers in the coming weeks.

"The opportunity to export profitably couldn't come at a better time," said Bruce Jacobs, president and chief executive officer of Grede. "The market is extremely difficult for the foundry industry as we try to manage volatile costs and reduced demand. The new Daimler work will help fill open capacity at our plants in Wisconsin, Indiana and Minnesota, and our hope is that additional export work fills some of the gaps at our other plants."

Like many other manufacturers, Grede has experienced rapid global increase in the costs of its raw materials and energy. Those costs have jumped approximately 40 percent in recent months, while domestic demand for foundry products has dipped by about 25 percent, Jacobs said.

"It's been a difficult time for everyone in our industry," he said. "While our company has been able to remain financially stable amid market swings, it hasn't been easy and it's involved difficult decisions to curtail some operations and employment. Europe - due in part to the favorable current exchange rates and a shortage of foundry capacity there - represents an important opportunity for Grede Foundries.”

Huppert Engineering of Biedenkopf, Germany, has been retained to supplement Grede's England-based sales office to service the new Daimler account and pursue additional European export opportunities, Jacobs said.

Despite the additional orders, Grede is continuing to lay off employees, according to The Associated Press. The AP reported that Grede will lay off 90 employees at one of its production lines in Reedsburg. The company also laid off 80 employees in April.

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