100 more jobs lost as Sunrise Medical announces moves
Company to shift some operations to Mexico, California
By Allison Linn, Rocky Mountain News
August 9, 2002

Sunrise Medical Home Healthcare is moving its wheelchair seat manufacturing operations from its Longmont headquarters to plants in Tijuana, Mexico, and Fresno, Calif., resulting in pink slips for about 100 employees.

The layoffs, expected to be completed by the end of the year, affect about 63 full-time and about 33 part-time employees, said spokesman Don Hottle. About 300 administrative employees will stay in Longmont, Hottle said.

Sunrise Medical makes a wide variety of health care products, from wheelchairs to respiratory products, mostly through subsidiaries it acquired in the 1980s and 1990s.

Hottle said this move is designed to streamline the company's operations.

Currently, Sunrise Medical's Quickie-branded wheelchairs are made in the Fresno and Tijuana plants, while the Jay-brand seats are made in Longmont. As a result, Hottle said, customers often receive their seats days after receiving their wheelchairs, at an extra cost to the company.

It's one of several restructuring efforts Sunrise Medical has undertaken since an investment group led by company managers completed a buyback of the once-public company's shares in late 2000. The company, which employs about 3,200 people worldwide, is also restructuring its sales force.

With the changes, Hottle said the company is considering the possibility of another public stock offering down the road, but no firm plans are in place.

The job losses mark another blow to Longmont, which has lost about 650 jobs this year, after losing 2,100 jobs in 2001.

"It's been a tough year," said John Cody, president and chief executive of the Longmont Area Economic Council. Cody said the economic council is now focusing its efforts on recruiting new companies to Longmont, in the hope that will create more jobs.

"What's been driving the economy has been new business growth," he said. "Existing industry has not really added anything to our job market."