Watlow Electric announced the layoff of 60 of its Columbia plant workers Monday, bringing to a close the company’s plan to retire 30 percent of its local workforce this summer.

Lisa Ptasienski, Watlow’s manager of marketing communications, said the layoffs were made necessary by three factors: a downturn in the semiconductor market, a recession in the memory storage market and the effects of tariffs recently levied by the federal government.

Watlow, an industrial heating manufacturer, was founded in 1922 in St. Louis . The company now employs about 2,000 people working in 12 facilities in the United States, Mexico, Europe and Asia, according to its website. 

Watlow's Columbia facility primarily serves the semiconductor market and, looking forward, will be responsible for the production of the company's high-end, high-tech products, Ptasienski said.

The impetus behind the layoffs, the first stage of which saw 41 people lose their jobs April 2, was Watlow’s plan to move the production of its older legacy products to a plant in Querétaro, Mexico.

Ptasienski said that intense competition from lower-cost, overseas competitors forced Watlow’s hand.

"The move frees up space in Columbia for the production of higher technology thermal solutions," Ptasienski said. "Our goal is to transform the Columbia facility into a manufacturing center of excellence."

The 101 people let go over the course of the layoffs will receive severance packages and outplacement services, Ptasienski said. The size of former employees' severance packages will be determined by the length of their tenure with the company, according to previous Missourian reporting.

"Watlow cares deeply about all of our team members," Ptasienski said. "We’ll do as much as possible to ensure that the people who were affected by these layoffs are able to land on their feet."

The remaining workers will be trained in producing Watlow’s new line of semiconductors, which are still in research and development.

Supervising editor is Elizabeth Brixey.

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  • Quinn is a sports and news reporter for the Missourian.

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