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Canadian transmitter manufacturer lays off 5 at Bangor plant

Nick McCrea | BDN
Nick McCrea | BDN
Charlie Drillen, plant manager for Nautel's Bangor manufacturing facility, watches the company's new metal punch machine at work on Friday, Dec. 7, 2012.
By Nick McCrea, BDN Staff

BANGOR, Maine — Nautel, one of the world’s largest AM and FM radio transmitter manufacturers, has laid off five employees at its 40-person Bangor production facility, a company spokesman confirmed Monday.

The move comes about seven months after the Canadian company put $500,000 worth of new machinery and equipment in the facility. Nautel, based in Hackett’s Cove, Nova Scotia, employs about 250 people.

Nautel spokesman John Whyte said the company has made a “modest change” after conducting a “companywide review to determine what positions we need going forward.”

Another seven employees were cut from the staff at the Hackett’s Cove hub, according to Whyte.

“It was really driven by skill sets,” Whyte said, adding that the cuts were made to “set the company up for the future.” He said Nautel wanted to ensure it had the “exact right team [it] needed to go ahead.”

Whyte said the layoffs are not a result of reduced need for employees caused by the new machinery. He said the machinery was meant to improve safety at the facility by replacing outdated, more dangerous equipment, and reflects Nautel’s commitment to the Bangor facility.

Nautel purchased a new metal punch machine, which punches holes into sheets of metal used to produce the transmitters, as well as a new 90-ton, eight-axis press brake, which bends the metal used to construct the transmitters.

“It’s a major investment for Nautel, but it shows our commitment to the manufacturing facility in Bangor,” Kevin Rodgers, Nautel chairman and owner, said at the time. “We’ve got a great group of people [in Bangor] that build a quality product that they’re certainly very proud of.”

Company executives visited Bangor after the new equipment was installed to celebrate with employees and city officials.

Whyte said Nautel has been “growing dramatically” in recent years, with major clients including Stanford’s linear particle accelerator, the U.S. Coast Guard, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and international agencies such as the Turkish equivalent of the Federal Aviation Administration. Nautel also is working with Indian officials to digitize their AM radio system.

Whyte said no further cuts are planned.

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