A metal fabricator said to be one of the country’s largest manufacturers of wind turbines has unexpectedly shut down in the midst of what was described as a severe cash-flow crunch.
Beaird Co. Ltd., Shreveport, La., closed its doors and laid off 427 workers as executives seek new investors as well as possible state assistance to pump in money to keep the company afloat.
It was unclear when the company might reopen. Beaird executives were quoted as saying that the shutdown was “temporary” and they expected to resume operations within the next week or so, perhaps by June 2.
On Friday, a Shreveport television station reported that Rosbottom Interests Inc., a Dallas-based oil and gas, gaming and real estate company, was “eyeing” the plant. It quoted union officials as saying that Rosbottom might be interested in investing in it. Attempts to reach Harold Rosbottom, who owns the company, were unsuccessful.
The shutdown was somewhat ironic in a week when oil prices soared to record levels above $135 per barrel and politicians continued to press for “green collar” jobs in alternative energy sectors such as wind and solar.
The American Wind Energy Association is projecting 30-percent growth in demand for wind energy products this year.
Beaird has been a major employer in Shreveport since 1918 and for decades it was a key supplier to the oil and gas industries. In 2003, Beaird landed a major contract, believed to be worth $200 million, to build wind towers on abandoned oil rigs in the Gulf of Mexico. It is not known whether that deal was still providing work for the Shreveport plant.
The company was purchased by a group of private invest ors, headed by Sam Eiken, in 2004. As recently as early as last year it was hailed in a story in Site Selection magazine as “thriving and expanding” as a manufacturer of wind towers to meet growing U.S. demand.
“The company just came out of a very difficult contract that ate up a lot of cash,” Gerald Landry, Beaird’s president, told the Shreveport Times. “We need to rapidly reduce costs.”
23 May 2008
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