(updated 12:40 p.m. C.S.T, 3 APR 2020)
Some call it the Signify Jinx, others call it the Philips Curse, one former employee just calls it bad luck. What is it? When Philips/Signify makes a major acquisition—look out! In 2008 Philips purchased Genlyte at a premium price and the U.S. had a major recession three weeks later. Fast forward to 2020. The Signify Cooper Lighting Solutions deal closed on 2 MAR and three weeks later the world as we know it changed. Maybe forever.
The bad times are here and we are seeing several approaches:
A big EU company has put their entire company on a two week holiday beginning 6 APR.
Signify has requested their employees volunteer to reduce their work hours by 20% and those workers will receive a pay reduction to correspond with that 20% reduction in workload. A company spokesman responded to our request for details. “What we have internally announced this week is a call for solidarity and unity among all our employees. The COVID-19 pandemic has created an unprecedented situation globally and from the outset, we have taken considerable action focused on the health, safety and wellbeing of our employees, customers, partners and people around us. It is essential to ensure business continuity and anticipate potential disruptions in market demand. Many companies are taking measures, all in their own ways….Our Leadership Team has therefore decided to move to a flexible salary cost base and allow temporarily salary reduction, impacting all employees.”
EdisonReport can confirm that the Signify 20% reduction in salary effects Cooper Lighting and NXP. The spokesman emphasized, “We ask all employees to voluntarily support a 20% worktime and pro-rata pay adjustment for a period of three months.” While the unions in Europe are quite critical of this move, we think it is smart as Signify tries to preserve the jobs for the long term.
Acuity Brands. In a conference call yesterday with investors, CEO and industry newcomer, Neil Ashe, discussed looking at fixed costs and scaling the business appropriately. We know what that means.
TCP laid off approximately 7% of their North American workforce. This RIF occurred today, 3 APR.
One Wisconsin company had a big layoff in March. We are told that it was about 25% of their workforce. The positions included engineering, sales, customer service and manufacturing. EdisonReport is not able to verify the exact details at this time.
3 Different Reps in Pennsylvania have had either layoffs or furloughs. Almost all construction has stopped in Pennsylvania, resulting in a halt to shipping any luminaires.
John Memsic, a recruiter, explains: “During the past twelve years that I have been an executive recruiter in the lighting business, it is normal for my business to slow down from November 15 through the middle of February. This year is very different. The business has come to a complete halt due to the Coronavirus. My customers are telling me they will take a wait and see approach and are not hiring. However, companies are laying off employees to reduce overhead and I now have many very talented candidates looking for opportunities in sales, management, operations, and marketing with no opportunities for an introduction. Normally by April business is brisk but my phone has now gone silent. My heart goes out to the manufacturers, distributors, agents, contractors and thousands of employees experiencing the same loneliness. Things will improve but predicting the comeback is so uncertain.”
Daniel Machlis from PreciseLED, writes: The greatest effect of the Coronavirus will not be the financial impact this will have on our business, but the lasting, indelible memories of the way individuals and companies reacted during this turbulent time. Did we help the community at large or did we hoard goods, worrying about just ourselves? I am proud of our team here at PreciseLED. Individuals have taken personal initiatives such as 3D-printing face shields and masks and donating goods to local governments and hospitals. This is our time to shine; let’s worry about helping each other, the industry will do just fine.”
Let’s hope Mr. Machlis is right.