Pacific Insight announced Wednesday morning it’s laying off part of the workforce at its facility outside Nelson and transferring production to a facility in Monterrey, Mexico.
Kristine Walczak, vice president of corporate communications at Pacific Insight’s parent company Methode, told the Star she was unable to say how many employees are being let go or how big the workforce is at the engineering firm.
Pacific Insight designs and builds lighting and electronics for the automotive industry. Walczak said layoffs are related to the company’s automotive production, and that about 100 people will stay on at the Nelson facility to work on commercial vehicle production.
Walczak said the layoffs, which will take effect by Oct. 31, were prompted by changes in the automotive industry.
“It’s unpredictable. The economy really just requires us to continually evolve and change,” she said. “Our customers have been pressuring us to improve efficiencies and we’ve seen a lot of pricing pressure in the automotive industry and we just had to respond to that.”
Walczak said employees laid off will be offered severance packages.
Pacific Insight, which is located on Highway 3A, was acquired by the Chicago conglomerate Methode in August 2017 for approximately $144 million.
At the time, the company said it planned to keep all jobs in the Kootenays intact. Despite that, the layoffs had been expected internally, according to a source with knowledge of the situation.
“A lot of people saw the writing on the wall at that time. Since then we’ve been moving contracts, work has been a lot less.”
The Star’s source estimated more than half the workforce in being let go, and was skeptical that Pacific Insight could stay at its current location.
“There are five production lines that run every day, and the majority of the products on those are all for automotive. That takes up more than a third of the floor space, and then another probably quarter or so is dedicated to the after-production of those products. So at least half the machines on the floor will be cleared out of there. I’d say likely more.”
It’s the second time this year that a local business owned by an international corporation has been hit by layoffs. Twenty-seven people were let go in June when Hawthorne Gardening opted to close Can-Filters, which had operated on the North Shore since 1989.