Mercury may move workers

By Mark Savage
of the Journal Sentinel staff

September 19, 1997

Some workers at the Mercury Marine plant in Hartford may be asked to move to other plants, including the Fond du Lac headquarters, in the wake of the company's decision to abandon plans to build personal watercraft.

About 100 people work at the Hartford plant, which was reopened in late 1995, primarily to work on personal watercraft, commonly known by the trademark Jet Skis.

Tony Esposito, a Mercury Marine spokesman in Fond du Lac, said Brunswick Corp., the company's parent, recently decided to abandon its personal watercraft program. Esposito said the Hartford plant had been used for research and development of the vehicle and was in a pre-production phase.

Esposito said the company was trying to relocate some of the Hartford workers, but he anticipates many will be kept at that plant for other research projects. He noted that an early retirement program currently being offered also may have some impact on the number of people who will be asked to transfer to other locations.

"We'll keep some people in Hartford," he said.

Mercury Marine received a $650,000 loan and a $100,000 labor training grant from the Wisconsin Development Fund in 1995 to help develop the Hartford plant. At the time, the company said it hoped to create 204 jobs there.

The Hartford plant had been closed in 1991, but strong outboard motor sales spurred its reopening.

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