Precision Castparts notified employees Wednesday that it will shut down its main Portland site this month, blaming the coronavirus outbreak for eliminating demand for its heavy industrial products.
“As the impact of the crisis and other macroeconomic factors have weighed on our nation, many of our customers have or intend to curtail or reduce their production for a period of time,” Precision Castparts executives Blake Ray and Frank Mello wrote to employees Wednesday.
“Due to the resulting order reductions,” they wrote, “we are announcing a temporary shutdown of our operations over the coming weeks to align our production with our customers’ needs,” they wrote in a letter obtained by The Oregonian/OregonLive. The shutdown affects Precision Castparts’ large campus in Southeast Portland.
The letter said “all employees” will be on unpaid furlough from April 20 until May 3, except for an unspecified number designated by their supervisors. Precision Castparts said they may use vacation or floating holidays during this period if they choose.
Precision Castparts did not immediately respond to a message Wednesday seeking information on how many workers it will furlough and whether any production will continue in Oregon.
More than 169,000 Oregonians filed jobless claims in the last two weeks of March as the state shut down to contain the coronavirus pandemic. The extraordinary job losses were concentrated in the retail and hospitality sectors, with many establishments shuttered by government order.
Gov. Kate Brown has allowed manufacturers to continue operating, provided they take steps to keep workers apart and prevent the spread of the virus, but the latest jobless report showed a spike in the number of factory job losses.
Precision Castparts makes large metal components for airplanes and other industrial customers. Boeing, one of the Portland company’s largest customers, shut its Washington factories last month and has yet to reopen — though its Gresham, Ore., plant continues operating.
Precision Castparts is among the state’s largest businesses. Berkshire Hathaway, Warren Buffet’s investment firm, acquired the business in 2016 for $37 billion — the highest price ever paid for an Oregon company.
Precision Castparts employed more than 30,000 at the time, including 3,000 in Oregon.