Company officials confirmed that 341 positions
are affected, including Freightliner Trucks sales and marketing functions. Other elements being relocated manage relations with the company's dealer network, provide technical support to both dealers and customers, and ensure a reliable and cost-effective supply of replacement parts.
"The center of gravity for our Freightliner Trucks product line is in the eastern United States," said Chris Patterson, president and chief executive officer of Freightliner LLC. "We have concluded that sales, marketing and customer support activities for our flagship products are better conducted in closer proximity to the majority of our customers and dealers.
"Secondarily, our supplier base, our affiliated companies and our Freightliner Trucks manufacturing activities are largely located in the eastern part of the continent," Patterson added. "Our plans to achieve benchmark performance as a company in the years ahead require that we address this issue head-on."
Corporate headquarters will continue to be based in Portland with a workforce of 2,200 once the transfer is complete. Operations at the Western Star Manufacturing Plant on Swan Island, which currently employs 970, are not affected.
The departments being transferred will occupy offices in northern South Carolina, near both the Charlotte-Douglas International airport, and within a 75-mile radius of long-established Freightliner Trucks manufacturing facilities in the region. The majority of employees affected by the transfer will be relocated in early summer, 2008. Operations are expected to commence July 31 in the new South Carolina location.
Employees were notified of the company's decision Thursday, following an internal announcement in early September that a potential move of selected customer-facing functions was under evaluation. Relocation offers have been extended to all employees whose jobs are being moved, regardless of level or corporate service.
Patterson said further relocations are possible in the foreseeable future, depending on the evolution of the company's relationship with its affiliates and dynamics in its markets.
"Negotiations with South Carolina include contingencies in the event that we elect to center more of our operations there and we will construct a dedicated facility to house the transferred departments on land we expect to acquire in the very near term. Our specific plans will evolve with time and consistent with our business needs."