Catoosa Wind Tower Plant Cuts Workforce

Monday, January 5th 2009, 11:19 am
By: News On 6

By Ashli Sims, The News On 6

TULSA, OK - There's an unexpected blow for an industry that was supposed to bring an economic windfall to Green Country.  A local wind tower manufacturer handed out dozens of pinks slips on Monday.

DMI's general manager blames the economy.  DMI leaders say the projects and customers are there, but the financing isn't.

DMI stepped onto the Tulsa scene with its giant wind towers and whipped up quite a frenzy.  It bought its facility at the Port of Catoosa in May of 2007, hired a flurry of workers that fall, and in less than a year it was rolling out 50-foot tower sections.  Towers that were the base of a new front in renewable energy. 

Related story:  5/23/2008  Wind Towers May Be Key To Future Energy

Wind farms, bolstered by tycoons like T. Boone Pickens, were supposed to be the wave of the future.  But, the credit crunch seems to have knocked the wind out of the industry.

"So what we're doing now is in essence positioning ourself for a no growth year in 2009," said DMI President Stefan Nilsson.

DMI announced a 20% across the board cut at its three locations.  That means 50 workers in Tulsa.

But, the company isn't alone.  The economic downturn and the dearth of financing shutdown Trinity Tower's Tulsa plant in November.  They laid off more than 100 workers.   

Related story: 11/19/2008  Trinity Structural Towers To Close

DMI says it's down, but not out.  They say more than 200 folks are still working and the industry and the Tulsa plant will bounce-back.

"But, with the expectation that once the financial side of the equation resolves itself, this industry will take off again," said DMI President Stefan Nilsson.

The acting general manager of DMI's Tulsa facility told The News On 6 that the customers are still out there, but the credit situation has them delaying projects, not cancelling them.  He echoes the company's president, saying he has faith and still believes in the industry.