Sanyo to Lay Off Hundreds of Employees

DECEMBER 5, 2006 -- POSTED AT 10:00 P.M. CST

FORREST CITY, AR -- Sanyo has been a part of the Forrest City community for over three decades now and as of next year, big changes are in store. Hundreds of employees will lose their job as the demand for the older type of television set has decreased dramatically.

"CRT sales, television sales have really declined as flat panel sales have increased," says Joe Keeton, the Sanyo Vice President and Controller.

The Forrest City Sanyo plant has traditionally only produced the cathode ray televisions, or CRT sets. They currently have 5 production lines that make the CRT sets, but soon that will be cut back to only 2 lines.

"Next year our goal is we will have one CRT line and we will have one line of flat panel, so we are progressing to the flat panel," says Keeton.

The plant employs about 650 people. That number will basically be cut in half in February, when approximately 300 of those employees will be laid off. Keeton says as the price goes down and demand for the flat panels goes up, hopefully the plant will be able to grow with it, but for now, he says change is a must.

"Well you can only add what you can sell, so we have to scale our workforce back to the level of sales that we have," says Keeton.

Keeton says they knew the market change would happen eventually, they just didn't expect it to happen so fast. But with the demand for the older types of TV's declining and the new flat screens taking over, Keeton says they didn't have a choice but to change.

"It'd be like if we made 8 track tape players. Technology has changed and we have to change with it," adds Keeton.

Keeton says they don't know which employees will be laid off just yet. He said seniority and performance will be a factor in making the decision, which will likely be effective in February.