Piper lays off 60 workers as plane sales dwindle

VERO BEACH – Piper Aircraft will lay off about 60 employees, reducing its workforce to approximately 830 after projected airplane sales failed to materialize this year, the company told employees Monday.

As reported on VeroNews.com last month, the company had been lowering its sales projections for fiscal year 2010-2011 since the start of the year and is now expecting to sell about 158 units. Piper sold 90 planes last year and, in anticipation of a sales bonanza in 2010, especially in overseas markets, began hiring back manufacturing workers, who are expected to see the bulk of the new round of layoffs.

The company is still charting its future on development of the PiperJet, but even that program took a hit recently when vice president of engineering Dennis Olcott, who has been overseeing development of the PiperJet, left the company earlier this month as did Vinny Galioto, an engineering director.

Since May of 2009 when Imprimis bought the struggling company, Piper has gone through two CEOs, a company president, chief financial officer, vice president of sales and marketing, and director of sales in addition to the departures of Olcott and Galioto.

Former CEO Kevin Gould abruptly resigned in July, offering evidence that problems at Piper were growing. The company is currently being run out of Brunei on an interim basis by Imprimis Managing partner Stephen Berger’s brother, Geoffrey, who is Managing Director of Imprimis’ Brunei operations.

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