Economy
12:50 pm
Wed December 19, 2012

Weak battery market forces layoffs at Midland-based manufacturer

Dow Kokam, the advanced battery manufacturer, has laid off 40 to 60 employees at its Midland Battery Park and another factory in Missouri.

The company had about 250 U.S. employees, with 95 at its Midland site.

Bill Gagliardi, the company’s director of public affairs and branding told the Midland Daily News that the cuts were necessary to stay competitive in a weak market battery market:

“Everything we’re doing is based on the market being in a slow growth mode,” Gagliardi said. “It’s positioning us to be able to compete in today’s market, but also be able to capture growth as that happens.”

The cuts affect people in various departments within the company, Gagliardi said.

“We looked at every facet and assessed how we can be better performing and improve our efficiency,” he said.

The layoffs come at the end of a difficult year for the U.S. battery industry, including bankruptcy for A123 Systems, the electric car battery maker with factories in Livonia and Romulus.

In October, Dow Kokam’s parent company, Dow Chemical, took steps to reduce the value of the battery maker in its accounting.

A Dow Chemical spokeswoman acknowledged that the move was a recognition “that the competitive landscape has changed for lithium-ion batteries, with growth rates reduced by weak demand,” the Midland Daily News reports.

- Jordan Wyant, Michigan Radio Newsroom