Abound Solar Cuts 280 Jobs at Longmont Facility
Wednesday, February 29, 2012
Abound Solar cut 280 jobs —
70 percent of the workers — at the company’s production facility along
the Interstate 25 Frontage Road near Firestone.
According to chief financial officer Steve Abely, the company
notified the workers, which had been running three shifts around the
clock, on Tuesday. The cuts affected 180 full-time workers and 100
temporary workers Abound had hired. About 120 people will remain
employed at the facility, which opened in 2009.
In somewhat of a press release spin, Abound, which manufactures
thin-film photovoltaic solar modules, said the cuts were made because it
is abandoning work on its first-generation module and switching to a
next-generation module that will be much more efficient.
Abound noted that it’s new high efficiency "AB2” 85 watt module
represents a 12.5 percent solar efficiency as verified by the U.S.
Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Lab (NREL).
Several-hundred AB2 modules were produced in early January 2012 on
commercial production equipment.
According to the press release, once manufacturing equipment has been
modified and performance tested, Abound Solar expects to resume mass
production with a 12.5-13 percent efficiency module by the end of 2012.
this is a difficult move with regards to temporarily reducing our
workforce, we know that accelerating the introduction of our next
generation module will bring significant benefits to our customers and
allow us to create even more jobs in the future,” said Craig Witsoe,
president and CEO of Abound Solar.
"Current market conditions are challenging for all U.S.
solar manufacturers, but the long-term winners will be manufacturers of
the lowest cost per watt, most reliable systems. By focusing our
resources to accelerate scale-up of our next generation high efficiency
technology, we will sustainably lower total system costs for our
customers, increase our own profitability and grow U.S. jobs and energy
"We’re shutting down the production line so that we can basically
retool the facility and perfect the process,” said Abely late Tuesday
As Ucilia Wang notes in her excellent report on
the Abound news, a successful manufacturing operation shouldn’t stop
running the lines all together in order to switch to new equipment.
Reading between the lines of the company’s press release, Wang said the
move really means Abound now has to move faster than it previously
planned to hopefully roll out a more attractive product.
After the factory is retooled and its next-generation module passes
field trials by its customers, Abound hopes to ramp production back up
in six to nine months and hire at least as many workers as it had to
cut, according to Abeley.
He also said the company’s permanent employees who were let go
received severance pay and were paid for their accrued vacation and