Toray Composite Materials America Inc. announced on June 5 that it would immediately suspend operations at its plant in Moore, South Carolina, due to the economic downturn created by the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Decisions that directly impact our associates and their livelihood are never ones that we take casually,” Dennis Frett, president and CEO, said in a release. “But these actions are absolutely necessary to reduce our costs and position the company for the future.”
The suspension of the Spartanburg County facility is not the only reduction in Toray’s U.S. operations. Its facility in Tacoma, Washington, will also see a significant decrease in capacity. Altogether, the company will cut about 25% of its workforce in its U.S. facilities, according to the announcement.
Jeffrey Clement, vice president of human resources, said that it made “more business sense” to shift the production in Spartanburg County to Decatur, Alabama, where the company also has a plant, since the Decatur plant can produce the materials made in Moore.
The announcement stated that the pandemic has caused a collapse of global air travel that resulted in a decrease in demand for passenger aircraft. The plant in Moore produced carbon fiber and prepreg — a reinforced composite — used in these aircraft.
“Considering industry analysts and recent actions by other aerospace companies, we see a three-to-five-year timeline until we return to a sales volume that resembles anything pre-pandemic,” Timothy Kirk, Toray’s vice president of aerospace sales, said.
Clement said that Toray hoped to eventually operate in Moore again. The manufacturer plans to keep some staff in order to maintain equipment. “We hope to resume operations in the future,” Clement said.