790 layoffs as Snohomish boat builder closes

790 layoffs as Snohomish boat builder closes »Play Video
ARLINGTON, Wash. - More than 800 employees at a Snohomish County yacht-building plant will lose their jobs by the end of the year due to a permanent closure of the facility, company officials said.

Meridian Yachts, a subsidiary of Brunswick Corp. and a major employer in north Snohomish County, is closing its doors due to a dramatic decline in boat sales.

The decline in sales has accelerated in recent months, due to the slowing economy and the increase in fuel prices, company officials said.

Employees learned of the decision Thursday in an announcement by company officials.

"They gave us 60 days notice and told us they're selling the plant and moving back east," said Jim Brooks.

"It's like losing my right arm, hard to take for a lot of us," said Darlene McDaniel, who worked at the plant for 32 years.

As the only job McDaniel had ever taken, Meridian had become a big part of her life over the years.

"These people are my family. (Our) kids went to school together," she said.

"It's scary. Haven't had to look for a job in a long time," said Brooks.

Brunswick is the world's largest maker of pleasure boats and the owner of a wide range of brands, including Meridian, Bayliner and Boston Whaler.

"We are living and working in the most turbulent economic times in recent history," commented Brunswick Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Dustan E. McCoy.

The company also is permanently closing two other plants - at Roseburg, Ore., and Pipestone, Minn. - and mothballing a third plant at Navassa, N.C.

All told, an estimated 1,450 employees will lose their jobs at all four facilities.

Three other plants are suspending production through the end of the year.