Burton cuts salaries, lays off 5% of workforce

Interesting to note a few things:

1)  A lot of these companies that skew towards a younger audience were (in many circles) assumed to be more or less impervious to the economic downturn as their audience has a large amount of discretionary income.  However, as SouthoftheNorth pointed out earlier, that’s not always the case

2)  They’ve only got 962 employees total.  I would have assumed more as there are dot-coms out there with similar employee numbers that are just accumulating losses hand over fist.

3)  Jake and his wife both eliminated their salaries altogether.

Content of the Burton press release below.

BURLINGTON, Vt. (March 25, 2009) — Burton today announced that due to the challenging global economic situation, the company must cut its annual spending by reducing salaries in North America from the top down and laying off a small percentage of its North American staff. Burton is the world’s leading snowboard company and owns other top boardsports brands, including Channel Islands Surfboards, DNA Distribution (Alien Workshop and Habitat Skateboards), Analog, Gravis, ANON and R.E.D.

“This has been a very painful process for us, and considering the global economic situation, we’ve done everything in our power to save as many jobs as possible,” says Burton CEO Laurent Potdevin. “Our goal this entire year has been to cut as many costs as possible on a global level, like sales meetings, travel and new hires so that we could avoid cutting people. Instead of a much larger number of layoffs, we decided to take a different approach, which is temporarily reducing salaries on a sliding scale from 0-15% for employees in North America.”

Burton owners Jake and Donna Carpenter have chosen to eliminate their own salaries. Burton employees who have the highest salaries will face the biggest percentage of pay cuts, while employees who make less will experience smaller cuts. In order to save even more jobs, Burton has cancelled all bonuses and merit increases for North America this year and temporarily reduced the company’s 401K match from 4% to 1%.

In addition to salary reductions, Burton laid off less than 5% of its staff in North America, bringing the company’s total headcount in North America to 663. After staff reductions, Burton currently employs 418 employees at its headquarters and factory in Vermont, 17 employees at DNA Distribution in Ohio and 154 employees at its California offices. Globally, Burton employs 962 people.

Cost reductions across all brands were necessary because Burton is by no means immune to the global economic downturn, which worsened at an unprecedented pace during the company’s prime business season. However, as the global market share leader in snowboarding and with strong brand recognition around the world, Burton is well positioned to weather the economic storm.

“The shareholders at Burton are my wife Donna and myself,” says Jake Burton Carpenter, Founder and Chairman of Burton. “Our goals for Burton are not short-term, but the long-term prosperity of our brands, boardsports and the people involved. Donna and I want to thank our dedicated employees for their contribution to the company’s cause through a temporary pay reduction. The bottom line is that their sacrifice is preventing a far more significant layoff and will allow us to come out of this economic downturn stronger than ever.”

About Burton
In 1977, Jake Burton Carpenter founded Burton Snowboards out of his Vermont barn. Since then, Burton has fueled the growth of snowboarding worldwide through its groundbreaking product lines, its team of top snowboarders and its grassroots efforts to get the sport accepted at resorts.  In 1996, Burton began growing its family of brands to include boardsports and apparel brands. Privately held and owned by Jake, Burton’s headquarters are in Burlington, Vermont with offices in California, Austria, Japan and Australia. For more information, visit http://www.burton.com.

8 Replies to “Burton cuts salaries, lays off 5% of workforce”

  1. I cannot imagine how much money dude has:

    “The shareholders at Burton are my wife Donna and myself…” is such a rad thing to be able to say…

    Still matching 410k’s? Not too bad.

    As much as I want to hate on the Big B, the fact that one dude–the same dude–is running the show is just about the biggest Mitigating_Factor ever…

    good luck Burton…I guess. LOL

  2. Yeah, you’ve got to give it up for them. They’ve built the company and have certainly had numerous opportunities to sell but never have – something other ‘core’ boardsport brands (Hurley, Forum, Mervin) can’t claim.

  3. I’ve got to admit though that I’ve been searching ebay and the webs hard for one of those old “Boycott Burton cuz you can’t patent fun” stickers that were all over the lift towers at Acres back in the day

  4. “…but you can farm it out to chinese and sell it at Walmart…”

    speaking of patents: Voile?


  5. LOL @ “410k”… You can tell I’m financially sound.


  6. I noticed that and just figured you were doing better than me and my 4.01K

  7. My portfolio:
    David Lee Roth IRA
    vinyl records because man fuck a CD


  8. Sounds just like living in paradise

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