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July 24, 2006

InFocus call center heading to India

(Oregonian (Portland, OR) (KRT) Via Thomson Dialog NewsEdge) Jul. 22--InFocus Corp. will cut about 10 percent of its Oregon work force this fall, outsourcing call center jobs to India where more customer service tools are available for less money.

The digital projector company will eliminate about 30 of the 277 jobs at its Wilsonville headquarters, InFocus said Friday. It employs 448 people companywide.

Once a leader in digital projectors used in classrooms, boardrooms and home theaters, InFocus has struggled to compete as bigger brands such as Epson and Sony entered the market. InFocus' sales have declined steadily, and at $532 million last year were down 40 percent from their peak in 2000. The company lost $80 million in 2005.

"The product itself has become increasingly easy for competitors to emulate," InFocus chief executive Kyle Ranson said Friday. He said InFocus will try to differentiate through improved customer service, but the additional personnel and software necessary would be prohibitively expensive in the U.S.

Sending call center work to India will save the company about $1 million a year, he said. The company outsourced its projector manufacturing to Asia from 2001 to 2003.

Layoffs will begin in late summer or early fall, according to InFocus, and conclude by year's end. Employees will be offered incentives to stay on through the transition, and severance payments and retraining help when their jobs end.

InFocus shares closed at $2.68 Friday, down 8 cents on the Nasdaq Stock Market before the company announced its job cuts. Its stock is down 33 percent this year, and in June InFocus warned that its second-quarter sales wouldn't meet company targets.


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