WARREN – TPI Composites Inc. this week laid off 52 employees in Rhode Island, or around one third of its in-state workforce, after a customer filed for bankruptcy.
The company enacted the layoffs on Aug. 15 due to one of the business’ clients, the electric bus company Proterra, filing for chapter 11 bankruptcy earlier this month, said Jerry Lavine, president of TPI’s Automotive Business Unit.
“With (Proterra) canceling much of the work we do in that facility, we shut down the bus body production line in Warren,” Lavine said.
About 100 employees remain at the Warren facility, located at 373 Market St. TPI Composites filed a WARN layoffs notice with Rhode Island on the day of the job cuts.
In addition to the Rhode Island layoffs, the company also laid off or reassigned approximately 130 employees at its facility in Juarez, Mexico, Lavine said. About half of those impacted employees lost their jobs.
Lavine did not immediately have data for how many remaining orders Proterra had with TPI, but said that eight composite bus bodies are currently among the company’s inventory in Warren.
“We’ll work with Proterra to see if they’re going to need them or not, because they’re going to try to find a way to work their way from bankruptcy,” Lavine said, “and if they don’t, we’ll find some use for them,” though the company hasn’t worked out those details yet.
TPI is best known for manufacturing wind turbine blades, with this work making up “by far, the majority of the company’s business,” Lavine said, but the Warren location deals primarily on the company’s automotive side.
While the Proterra order as a whole comprised less than 2% of TPI’s overall business, the bus body production was the largest project taking place at the Warren location, he noted.
TPI’s Automotive Business Unit currently has three other programs in production, which started in July and will run through the end of the year, and two other programs slated to start in 2024.
The company is currently seeking new business opportunities as it accounts for the loss of Proterra, Levine said, and “some of these programs will hopefully allow us to either bring back people who were laid off or hire new associates.”
Jacquelyn Voghel is a PBN staff writer. You may reach her at Voghel@PBN.com.