Sumerset Houseboats in Somerset plans to idle production for far longer than its typical summer shutdown this month.
The company announced Wednesday that it will shut down manufacturing operations effective July 17 once boats in production are completed and then will not reopen until Nov. 1.
Sumerset typically stops manufacturing operations for one to two weeks during the summer, said President and CEO Steve Lochmueller.
"Business is really, really poor and the margins are eroding, and I just don't want to stay in business and then go out of business," Lochmueller said.
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Lochmueller said the company's showroom will remain open for orders during the idling, which will affect 57 of the company's 60 employees.
"We had 253 employees last April and manufactured about 100 boats a year, doing a little over $3 million a month," Lochmueller said. "That's how far it's dropped in a year and a couple of months."
Any boats that are ordered by customers during the idling will not begin production until November and then will likely be delivered in February, he said.
Employees, who have all been informed of the extended shutdown, will be encouraged to file for unemployment during the idling, he said.
He said he expects a recovery for the houseboat industry in 2010, but "this thing's not going to turn overnight."
"We'll bring as many people back Nov. 1 as business will allow us," he said.