Honda Plans Three-Month Production Freeze in S.C.

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Honda of South Carolina Mfg., Inc. plans to cease production of all-terrain vehicles (ATVs) and personal watercraft (PWC) for three months beginning in March. However, company leadership says it does not intend to lay off workers or shutter the facility.

Honda of South Carolina Mfg., Inc. opened in 1998. Located in Timmonsville, S.C., the company, employing about 1,500 people, serves as Florence County's largest employer in the Industrial/Manufacturing category and one of the largest employers in the Pee Dee region. The facility is one of Honda's 12 major factories in North America.

Jeff Helton, Honda’s assistant VP for support services, says production at the plant is being affected by the current economic conditions.

“Our goal is to be ready when the market conditions do turn back around,” Helton told The Morning News of Florence. “If the market conditions change, we will start producing a product right away. At this point in time, the market conditions are not favorable.”

Workers were notified of the work stoppage in December. The company offered workers voluntary early retirement packages. Employees choosing to stay are scheduled to partake in training activities and other work-related duties.

Honda Motor Co. Ltd. ends its business year March 31. In 2007, Honda’s sales of ATVs in North America decreased 4.5 percent to 211,000 units.

In 2003, South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford sat atop a Honda AquaTrax personal watercraft to help dedicate an expansion of the Timmonsville facility. Looking on (from left): Koichi Kondo, senior EVP and COO of American Honda Motor Co.; Hideki Ikegawa, president of Honda of South Carolina Mfg.; and Ray Blank, vice president of American Honda Motor Co.

— Submitted by Guido Ebert