Starfire Systems lays off nearly half its work force

Deteriorating business conditions and difficult credit markets have driven ceramic polymer manufactu
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Deteriorating business conditions and difficult credit markets have driven ceramic polymer manufacturer Starfire Systems to lay off almost half of its work force.

Starfire executed its deepest payroll cuts in its 20-year history today, laying off 19 of its 41 workers.

The cuts came just a day after the Empire State Development Corp.’s board of directors approved a $325,000 grant for the company in the Saratoga Technology + Energy Park. The layoffs include 15 full-time and four part-time employees.

“We’re still early stage and need investors for money to continue growing,” said Starfire President and Chief Executive Officer Richard Saburro.

Amid the financial crisis, many investors have lost interest in supporting emerging technology companies such as Starfire. Saburro called the cuts a “near-term setback” and said the company could rehire some affected and new workers when it starts a new contract next year.

The forthcoming contract will likely involve developing a lightweight ceramic composite brake rotor for an automotive company. Starfire first has to complete a similar rotor-related contract for another automotive company.

“We’re tied to a timetable,” Saburro said.

Saburro said the state grant announced Thursday will support Starfire’s future growth. The funding is part of a $3.2 million project, in which the manufacturer will purchase machinery and equipment. Through that capital investment, Starfire will create 22 jobs and retain 28.

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