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Willdan Will Furlough 21% of Workforce

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Willdan Group, the most valuable public company based in Anaheim, said it will furlough 300 workers, or about 21% of its workforce, to save cash during the coronavirus pandemic.

“Due to the rapidly evolving nature and continued uncertainty surrounding COVID-19, we are taking steps to maintain the safety of our employees, reduce costs, preserve liquidity and improve our financial flexibility,” Chief Executive Thomas Brisbin said in a statement.

The company’s Direct Install programs, where major utilities have hired Willdan to help small businesses in their territory save electricity, have been more severely affected, mainly due to COVID-19 restrictions implemented by the governors of New York and California. The Direct Install business accounted for about 40% of Willdan’s 2019 gross revenue.

The company (Nasdaq: WLDN) employed 1,451 as of Dec. 31. Willdan shares have fallen about 46% since Feb. 20 to $20.34 and a $235 million market cap.

The engineering and consulting firm is freezing all non-critical spending for travel, capital expenditures and other discretionary expenses.

It’s also reducing wages ranging from no cuts for lower salary bands up to 75% for senior management, and suspended cash fees for its board of directors.

Willdan said its financial position “remains strong,” citing $16 million of net cash balance and $56 million in borrowing capacity as of April 14.

It also withdrew its 2020 guidance and will provide an update on its first quarter earnings call scheduled for May 7.

Go here for more updates on how OC companies are responding to coronavirus.

For ongoing, in-depth coverage of coronavirus effects on OC businesses, see the Monday print edition of the Business Journal.

Peter J. Brennan
Peter J. Brennan
Peter J. Brennan has been a journalist for 40 years. He spent a decade in Latin America covering wars, narcotic traffickers, earthquakes, and business. His resume includes 15 years at Bloomberg News where his headlines and articles sometimes moved the market caps of companies he covered by hundreds of millions of dollars. His articles have been published worldwide, including the New York Times and the Washington Post; he's appeared on CNN, CBC, BBC, and Bloomberg TV. He was awarded a Kiplinger Fellowship at The Ohio State University.

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