SANFORD — A worldwide slump in the electronics components market is forcing Vishay-Sprague to lay off 200 employees from its Sanford plant in May, the company said Friday.
Market conditions are expected to improve by October and the company would then begin hiring employees back, said Vice President and General Manager Hank Powell.
“Nobody knows for sure. If the market improves before then, great,” he said.
Employees who will be let go May 17 were notified on Friday. They include assembly-line employees, mechanics, electricians, and supervisors. The layoff will bring employment to 1,200.
The plant is still running three shifts a day, seven days a week making tiny tantalum capacitors, which are used to store electric current in circuitry. The company is based in Malvern, Penn.
Powell said the situation is comparable to conditions at National Semiconductor Corp. in South Portland, where officials slowed production recently to cope with a computer chip glut.
Powell said the drop in demand from the computer and cellular phone industries was magnified by an artificial surge in orders last year.
“They’d order two or three times what they needed just so they could get something in. It was somewhat phony, but in the crunch time we didn’t know it. We were happy to get the orders,” said Powell.