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Nation’s Oldest Pleasure-Boat Maker Plans Layoffs

December 14, 1988

HOLLAND, Mich. (AP) _ The parent of the nation’s oldest pleasure-boat maker is seeking protection in federal bankruptcy court, while the subsidiary is planning heavy layoffs at its Holland plant.

Murray Chris-Craft Boat Cos.′ parent, Bradenton, Fla.-based Murray Industries Inc., asked a federal court in Tampa, Fla., last week for protection from creditors as it reorganizes under provisions of Chapter 11 of the U.S. Bankruptcy Code.

In Holland, ″we will be reducing our hourly and salaried work force a minimum of 20 percent over the next two to three weeks,″ Tom Robinson, plant vice president and general manager, said Monday.

″Production also will be cut, probably by 20 percent, although we haven’t finalized the details,″ Robinson said. ″We are going to be very lean in operating our plants and corporate headquarters.″

The boat maker’s gross sales have fallen from $180 million in 1986 to $140 million in the fiscal year ending July 1988.

But Robinson said he believed the company could solve its financial woes.

Murray’s reorganizational bankruptcy petition listed bank debts of $58.8 million and $11 million in trade debts, corporate counsel John Olson said. The filing, consisting of 16 bankruptcy petitions stacked 10 inches high, indicates there are more than 1,000 creditors.

Chris-Craft, with five plants nationwide and 1,200 employees, produced about 7,500 pleasure boats last year.

Operations of the company, which was founded 115 years ago in Algonac, Mich., were sold to Murray in 1981. Its other plants are in Bradenton, Fla.; Goshen, Ind.; Bellingham, Wash.; and Swansboro, N.C.

The Holland plant is the largest. As recently as 1983, it employed about 600 people in production of the classic cruisers. In recent years, employment has been less than 200.

″I don’t think they were shocked,″ Bob Kruithoff, business manager for the International Association of Machinists, said of the 40 remaining union members at the plant. ″They’ve been running out of parts for quite a while.″

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