PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — Freightliner LLC is moving 341 jobs to South Carolina to be closer to the truck manufacturer's customers and production sites.
The heavy truck subsidiary of German automaker Daimler AG said the move to Fort Mill, S.C., affects about 10 percent of its Portland workforce, primarily in sales, marketing and dealer support positions.
Freightliner is the leading heavy-duty truck manufacturer in North America and has built trucks in Portland for 60 years. But the company has made several rounds of major job cuts in recent years. And last year, it moved production of its Freightliner-brand trucks to plants in North Carolina and Mexico.
''This has been a particularly challenging and eventful year for Freightliner,'' said Chris Patterson, president and chief executive officer of Freightliner.
But he added it was also a year of accomplishment because the company has been able to post a profit in the face of a severe downturn in business, which he blames on a sluggish economy and fewer trucks hauling freight.
Freightliner will keep its headquarters in Portland but said future relocations are possible, depending on the dynamics of the market and its relationship with affiliates. The company also said some incentive contingencies are in place should it move more of its operations there.
The new South Carolina site is near the state border with North Carolina, where the bulk of Freightliner's manufacturing facilities are located.
''With our customers it matters that we be close to them, that we be in their faces on a regular basis and maintain strong relationships with our dealers,'' Patterson said.
Freightliner informed its Portland staff of the move Thursday morning and offered all workers an opportunity to relocate. The move is expected to be complete by July 2008.