BY CHUCK VANDENBERG
FORT MADISON – After revealing that the Siemens, Dresser-Rand facility in Burlington will be closing at the year’s end, officials confirmed today that the company is recalling some employees laid off in January in Fort Madison.
According to a spokesperson from Siemens Gamesa Renewable Energy division, more than 100 employees are currently being recalled to Fort Madison’s wind blade facility.
“Fort Madison is a central part of our strategy moving forward,” said spokesperson Kaile Gurney. “We are continuing to invest in this facility by making capital improvements to install additional blade molds for new wind turbine models. We are now building 53-meter blades for the SWT-2.3-108 turbine, 59-meter blades for the SG 2.7-129 turbine, and 64-meter blades for the SG 3.4-132 turbine. To meet the increased production demands, we are in the process of recalling more than 100 employees.”
Company officials said in January that the business climate at the time was not strong enough to support staffing levels at that time and laid off 202 employees. However, Gurney said at the time that the plant was looking at doing some retrofitting to enable different blades to be manufactured at the facility and they hoped some of the staff would be able to be recalled.
The plant opened in September of 2007 on Fort Madison’s southwest industrial tract with 311,000 square feet of production and warehouse space. It underwent an expansion in 2008 nearly doubling its size to 650,000 square feet and nearly 500 employees at its peak production.
Company officials hinted in February that setting the facility up to handle different blades could allow some of the workforce to be rehired, but didn’t offer any specifics on how many.