Herman Miller Steelcase plan cuts

November 11, 2008
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ZEELAND — The Grand Rapids Business Journal has learned Herman Miller Inc. plans to make job reductions in the amount of 400 to 650 positions. The losses will be spread throughout its global manufacturing workforce with roughly 200 to 400 being West Michigan positions. The cutbacks are considered layoffs at this time.

The company, however, is reportedly offering buyout options to both manufacturing and white-collar employees. The package for those who choose the voluntary separation would include out-placement assistance, continuing health care and 50 percent bonus to normal severance package.

In a press release issued this morning Brain Walker, chief executive officer, announced plans to cut fixed overhead and operating expenses by roughly $60 million. Related charges are expected to total approximately $10 million. The company has revised its current quarter revenue estimate to fall in the range of $475 million to $495 million; earnings per share are estimated at $0.57 to $0.62.

"Herman Miller is not immune to the current global economic slowdown," said Walker. "We've experienced a decline in orders over the past few months as the credit market turmoil and declining corporate and consumer demand has accelerated. In response, we are acting early and carefully, as we have done in the past, to structure our costs in line with current and anticipated business conditions. At the same time, we will protect our ability to continue to invest in our figure. In all these actions we will remain true to our values as a company and community, treating those impacted with respect and care."

Steelcase Inc. is taking the proactive approach by sending 300 of its employees letters notifying them they could be laid off. It's been rumored that the 300 is split even between the wood division and the steel division. There is no specific date set for a decision on whether or not the employees will keep their jobs.

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