NORMAL, Ill. (WMBD) — Staff cuts at Rivian reported earlier this week by Bloomberg are the cause of uncertainty in the Twin Cities.
Monday, Bloomberg reported Rivian was considering laying off 5% of its current staff or 700 of its 14,000 employees.
Friday, Rivian CEO RJ Scaringe is holding an “all hands” meeting to address the recent rumored cuts. Bloomington Normal Economic Development Council CEO Patrick Hoban said locally there’s no word on how the cuts may or may not impact the Normal plant.
“Anytime you hear of job cuts, that’s always a concern,” Hoban said.
Bloomberg’s article reported the company’s focus of cuts would be on non-manufacturing jobs including IT, customer support and logistics.
Scaringe himself mentioned less of a need for non-manufacturing jobs in an email sent to Rivian staff that WMBD obtained on Tuesday:
As a result, we’ve implemented changes across Rivian, including prioritizing certain programs (and stopping some), halting certain non-manufacturing hiring and adopting major cost down efforts to reduce material spend and operating expenses. We also began the process of aligning the organization as a whole to ensure we are as focused, nimble and efficient as possible to achieve our priorities and objectives.
The hardest part of this process has been working through our organization to assess the size and structure of our teams and how well this aligns with our strategic plan. Our team is the core of Rivian and we are working to be as thoughtful as possible as we consider any reductions. We will always be focused on growth, however, Rivian is not immune to the current economic circumstances and we need to make sure we can grow sustainably. Every decision about our team is being assessed through the lens of our strategic priorities, not as a mechanism to simply reduce costs. Our team will continue to grow in support of our production ramp and product roadmap. — RJ Scaringe, Rivian CEO
Hoban said most of the 6,000 employees at the Normal plant work in manufacturing jobs.
“Knowing that the Bloomberg article did state it was focused more on the non-manufacturing jobs and our heavy focus is manufacturing, the concern is not as high here as it might be in other areas,” Hoban said.
Rivian also employs people in California, Michigan, Arizona, Vancouver, the Netherlands and the U.K.
In its first-quarter earnings, Rivian said it still expects to make 25,000 vehicles by the end of the year. Last week, Scaringe tweeted the company produced 4,401 vehicles at the Normal plant between April and June and a cumulative total of 7,969.
Hoban said the company is now less of a startup and more of a full-fledged vehicle manufacturer.
“In the beginning, there’s a lot of positions whenever you’re talking about a lot of design positions and engineers compared to now where the rubber meets the road, they have to actually be making the vehicles and manufacturing is a focus here in Bloomington-Normal,” Hoban said.
According to Hoban, Rivian plans on hiring an additional 1,000 people at its Normal plant. Normal town council member Scott Preston said Rivian has outdone itself from the projections and doesn’t believe the cuts will have a major effect on Normal.
“They’ve been an incredible boom to this local economy and really to the region,” Preston said. “Signs are that that is continuing full steam ahead and they’re looking to do that in the most effective way possible for them.”
Rivian has over 90,000 preorders for its electric vehicles according to its first-quarter earnings report. Rivian’s (RIVN) stock shares closed at $30.83 a share as of this publication. That’s a 0.23% increase.
A spokesperson for Rivian declined to give any specifics regarding Friday’s meeting, telling WMBD “it’s for employees only.”