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Amherst-based Birdair cuts 15% of North American work force

Amherst-based Birdair has cut 15 percent of its North American work force.

The company, which designs and makes roofing systems for stadiums and other facilities around the world, declined to say exactly how many jobs were cut.

“It was a significant reduction from our standpoint,” said David Capezzuto, director of business development for Birdair North America.

In addition to its Amherst corporate offices, Birdair’s North American operations include a manufacturing plant in Mexico, and field superintendents and sales offices around the United States.

The cuts took effect on Monday, Capezzuto said. The affected employees will receive severance packages and outplacement assistance.

Capezzuto described the cuts as a difficult but necessary decision, in light of how Birdair’s global operations have changed.

Birdair is part of the Japan-based Taiyo Kogyo Group. Over time, Birdair has increased its staffing in regional offices in places like Germany, South Korea, China, Dubai and Australia.

“Years ago, we would be serving those regions of the world from Buffalo,” Capezzuto said. “That’s not the case anymore.” As a result, he said, Birdair needed to scale back the size of its North American operations, to reduce overhead and run those operations more efficiently.

Capezzuto said the job cuts touched a variety of functions, including engineering, sales, design and purchasing.

Meanwhile, he said. Birdair’s business in North America remains strong. The company’s remaining North American work force will focus on custom tensioned membrane structures.

“We’re doing extremely well,” Capezzuto said. “We’ve got some great contracts, high-profile projects.”

Birdair has gained recognition for roofing projects including NFL stadiums and World Cup venues around the world.

Birdair said it will “leverage strategic partnerships and tap into the professional services” of the Taiyo Kogyo Group as part of its restructuring.

“As the company goes through this restructuring phase, it will honor its current contracted projects by leveraging the expertise of its remaining employees, its sister companies and the well-established strategic partnerships across the globe,” the company said.

Birdair was founded in 1957 by engineer Walter Bird. In 1992, it became a wholly owned subsidiary of the Taiyo Kogyo Group. Birdair in 2002 moved its manufacturing out of the United States, but kept its corporate offices and engineering operations in Amherst.