Duncan Aviation reduces work force

 - March 31, 2009, 6:12 AM

After months of attempting to stave off layoffs by reducing employee hours and implementing wage cuts, Duncan Aviation has been forced to lay off employees for the first time in the company’s 53-year history. The reduction affects 304 positions– 170 at the Lincoln, Neb. facility; 122 at Battle Creek and Kalamazoo, Mich.; and 12 in the company’s network of smaller satellite avionics and engine locations throughout the U.S.

“It has been a tough, emotional time for everyone with connections to Duncan Aviation,” said Todd Duncan, chairman of Duncan Aviation. “We have always been proud of being able to weather tough times with our work force intact. This recession, however, has been drastically different for our industry from any other recession we have seen. The sharp decline in flying by companies that own business aircraft combined with global business closings, reductions in spending and political grandstanding against our very livelihoods has created an environment that has left us no choice but to downsize.”

Duncan Aviation president Aaron Hilkemann said the company is providing assistance at various levels to those who were laid off. That assistance includes a fair severance package, counseling services, grief management and training, as well as résumé writing, networking and job hunting guidance. Laid off employees will also receive special consideration when positions open up within the company.

According to Hilkemann, Duncan Aviation has put on hold its plans for a Utah expansion. “The city is investing in infrastructure improvements for the construction site preparation and eventual construction that we will have in Provo. This is for our eventual permanent facility, not the leased hangar we plan to have open by August 2010,” he said.

Hilkemann said he is unsure when groundbreaking would occur but the company would monitor the economy and move forward with the new facility when the time is right. In the interim Duncan Aviation has leased 15,000 sq ft of hangar space at the airport to meet pre-existing commitments.