Old Town Canoe cuts back production

Posted Dec. 01, 2008, at 8:28 p.m.

OLD TOWN, Maine — Citing economic stress, Old Town Canoe recently slowed its production schedule, cutting hours for some workers. Company spokeswoman Lana Phillips said Monday that fewer canoes and kayaks were manufactured over the week of Thanksgiving than usual, a move designed to reduce inventory and overhead.

The company expects to repeat the temporary slowdown around Christmas, she said.

“We are not different than other companies in terms of the impact of economic conditions,” Phillips said. The slowed production schedule resulted in some loss of employee hours worked, she said, but she declined to provide specific payroll information or the change in the number of boats manufactured.

Phillips said no employees have been laid off, and she offered reassurance that Old Town Canoe, a cornerstone of the local economy for more than a century, is in good overall financial condition.

“The paddle [boat] market may be down, but we’re doing better than the paddle market and we are continuing to gain market share,” she said.

Attempts on Monday to reach Old Town Canoe’s corporate parent, Johnson Outdoors, based in Racine, Wis., were unsuccessful. But according to the Morningstar Investment Profile, Johnson Outdoors stock has dropped in 2008, from a high of $23.65 in January to a low of $6.25 in November. At the close of trading Monday, the price of a share was $7.

Johnson Outdoors manufactures recreation products such as diving equipment, watercraft, outdoor equipment and battery-powered motors.

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