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Laid-off IdaTech workers only partly surprised


Things are going to look a little bit different Wednesday in the parking lot of Bend-based IdaTech

“What we know is out of 140 employees 50 employees had to go, between Tijuana and Bend,” said a former employee who did not want to be identified.

The announcement came early Tuesday morning and affected roughly 30 of those Bend employees of the fuel cell maker.

“We knew that the company over the last couple weeks — we knew we would have a meeting, we knew something was going to happen. We just didn’t know what was going to happen.” said the former employee.

IdaTech employees were called in for a meeting, and that’s when they were told cuts were on the way.

“It was pretty much with no warning,” she said. “There was a meeting. and then pretty much people got tapped on the shoulder and were told, ‘We are going to go ahead and let you go.'”

IdaTech opened its doors in Bend back in 1996. Since then, they have had quite a few large contracts for their sustainable backuo power systems and fuel cell technology.

With a stable product, former employees say it was the research and development department that took the biggest cut.

“They just decided that we are going to go ahead and promote the one product,” she said. “It is already proven and in production. All R&D items are actually going to be put on hold for the time being.”

Many of the people who spoke with NewsChannel 21 said they understand what the company had to do. They had much praise for the business and said this was an unfortunate turn of events.

“They have sales, but not enough to cover the costs of the overhead,” said one former employee. “So that’s what happened today, there was more expenses than they were covering.”

“I think what happened was that a lot of us really believe in the technology, because it is the green alternative to diesel generators and it’s a really great product. I think the market just wasn’t ready for it yet. Fuel cells still have a long way to go before they are actually proven.”

Calls to IdaTech were not returned Tuesday afternoon.

Last fall, IdaTech stopped trading on the London Stock Echange and registered as a private company after its largest shareholder, Investec Group Investments (UK) Limited, indicated it would not provide more funding unless those steps were taken.

The firm’s big customers include telecommunications companies that need backup power to supply their networks when the electrical grid goes down.

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