Semitool Laying Off 280 Worldwide

By Beacon Staff

Semitool Inc., the third largest employer in Flathead County, announced Thursday that it is laying off 280 people worldwide because of lagging customer orders.

Approximately 200 employees were laid off at the Kalispell and Libby plants, according to a Semitool press release, with a “scattering of service/sales people in Texas, California, Minnesota and the East Coast” also receiving pink slips. The few remaining layoffs came at plants in Asia and Europe.

The layoffs come on the heels of a three-week period where Semitool effectively shut down and cut back to a skeleton production crew from Dec. 15 through Jan. 5. Employees were told then to anticipate a layoff in the first week of January, according to the release.

“This layoff is simply a follow up to that announcement and is in response to extreme business circumstances in our industry and the world economy, including a number of unexpected cancellations and push-outs of customer orders from Asia, Europe, as well as the United States,” according to the release.

The company will also continue to take other actions to reduce expenses, including salary reductions, time off and other measures, according to the release.

Semitool is a leading manufacturer of processing equipment for the semiconductor industry. Its headquarters are in Kalispell.

Last November, Semitool laid off about 100 workers at its plants in Kalispell and Libby. At that time the firm had about 800 Montana employees, so the two sets of layoffs have affected nearly 40 percent of Semitool’s Montana workforce.

The company said it did not plan on issuing another layoff, but “like other companies impacted by world economic conditions, we will have to remain responsive to those conditions.”