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Winston Rod lays off workers: Twin Bridges rod maker cuts production staff
[December 09, 2008]

Winston Rod lays off workers: Twin Bridges rod maker cuts production staff

(Montana Standard, The (Butte) Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) Dec. 9--The R.L. Winston Rod Co. has laid off production workers to deal with lower projected sales of its fly fishing rods worldwide, a company executive said Monday.

Woody Woodard, chief executive officer, said in a telephone interview from his office in Twin Bridges that the company regrets the layoffs, but that they are necessary to deal with the worldwide economic slump. He would not say how many people were let go, but said they are production workers. "It was a very difficult decision because we care for these people," he said. "Hopefully it's a short-term deal and we can rehire these people as soon as possible." Winston is a major employer in Twin Bridges and the surrounding area. The company makes high-end fly rods that are sold throughout the world. A Montana Standard story in 2005 reported that the company employed just under 100 people at that time.

Woodard said projections for sales next year show they should drop, based on economic data. Winston dealers are not ordering as many rods as the recession in the United States and the ripple effect throughout the global economy have slowed consumer spending. The company does not expect to need to produce as many fly rods in the coming year.

"The uncertainty is so great that people just aren't going into fly shops," Woodard said.

See WINSTON, Page A5 "That's all the indications we're getting and we have to reduce personnel accordingly." The layoffs took effect last week.

Winston Rod moved to Twin Bridges in 1976, and sells bamboo rods, which retail for around $3,000 each, and less expensive graphite fly rods.

Winston's job cuts are reflective of the national economic slowdown, said David Schulz, Madison County commissioner. With the economy souring, discretionary spending such as fly fishing gear and trips are among the first things to be cut back.

Schulz said the layoffs are painful for Twin Bridges.

"Our little town of Twin Bridges has been struggling the last couple years, especially on Main Street," he said. "Any loss of jobs will certainly have a long-term impact." -- Reporter Nick Gevock may be reached at [email protected]

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