Ceco Building Systems retooling amid layoffs

February 27, 2009

Garthia Elena Burnett -


Hit by another round of layoffs this week, Ceco Building Systems has let 67 people go since September 2008. 


Like many other businesses, Ceco is feeling the brunt of the economic downturn. But Roger Burlingame, general manager and vice president of the Southern region of the company, said they are weathering the storm and modifying their products to better serve their customers. 


"A portion of the Ceco Columbus plant is being retooled to produce a product that has not been fabricated in this plant in the past," Burlingame wrote in an e-mail statement, this morning. "Likewise, fabrication of a product that has historically been produced in Columbus is being shifted to other plants within our corporate network of plants. 


"These moves are being made to position Ceco to better serve our customers in the future when construction volume returns to normal," the statement continued. 


The most recent round of layoffs went into effect Monday; affected employees were notified last Friday. 


Despite the downsizing, Burlingame Thursday said Ceco is "financially strong" and conducting "business as usual." 


"But we''re changing the way we do business," he added. 


Ceco currently employs about 175 people at its Columbus facilities. 


If the new product takes off, there is the potential Ceco will rehire laid-off employees. 


"At this point we do not know the volume of demand for this new product," Burlingame said. 


"Nobody knows for sure with this economy," he added. 


Ceco was founded in Columbus in 1947, pioneering technology in the metal building industry. Since then, Ceco has become one of the nation''s largest metal building companies, providing customized metal building system designs. 


The company -- which operates three manufacturing facilities, in Columbus, Rocky Mount, N.C., and Mt. Pleasant, Iowa -- sells its buildings primarily through general contractors who become authorized Ceco Builders.