PEQUOT LAKES -- Crow Wing Power has signed a resolution to assume a majority interest in Hunt Technologies that involves a stock transfer and management arrangement.
Negotiations are in progress regarding agreement details, but Crow Wing Power stated early indications are for Hunt Technologies, Pequot Lakes, to transfer 51 percent of its stock to the electric cooperative located north of Brainerd.
Crow Wing Power would then provide management services to Hunt. Bruce Kraemer, chief executive officer of Crow Wing Power, was named acting CEO of Hunt. Paul and Lynn Hunt are expected to continue in their leadership roles at the corporate headquarters.
"It is a good thing for Crow Wing Power and Hunt Technologies," Kraemer said today, "We've been involved with them from the beginning. ... We think we are doing the right thing for the right reason."
The announcement was made just hours after Hunt Technologies cut an additional 22 jobs. The electronic technologies business, founded in 1985 by Lynn and Paul Hunt, began eliminating jobs in early March when 33 jobs were cut from a work force of about 180.
The job cuts Wednesday, with about 15 of the positions located at Hunt's Pequot Lakes headquarters, are part of the company's ongoing response to a cash-flow crisis. The Hunts said rapid growth and a slowdown in the market directly affected the company. About 80 employees were added in 1999. Revenue projections for 1999 were revised from about $51 million to $31 million.
Hunt employees were informed of the latest round of impending job cuts Tuesday in a meeting in the atrium of the company's new facility. Wednesday morning Lynn Hunt said the job cuts were part of the earlier downsizing and a needed step before a more positive announcement could be made regarding Crow Wing Power, which was expected in a matter of days.
Departing staffers were given a severance package of two weeks salary and three months of benefits.
Some former employees had questions regarding the decisions about job cuts. Jeff Howard, Hunt Technologies communications manager, said great efforts were made to be fair and salaries of workers did come into play in the considerations along with skills as the company refocused.
"It's been a distraction," Howard said of the company's financial crisis and job cuts. "People are very anxious to get to a point where this is not a concern anymore."
After promoting a strong bond between employees, Howard said survivor guilt is a real thing for employees. After cuts, the company now has 116 employees.
Hunt Technologies has not released a major new product since the Turtle, an automated meter reading device that uses power lines to transfer meter readings and data. The Turtle, which has an average selling price of $58 per unit, was first marketed in 1995.
Howard said part of Hunt's focus will be in enhancements to the Turtle applications and utility industries and new software for the Turtle has been released.
Early in May, Crow Wing Power confirmed an agreement with Hunt Technologies was one possibility as Hunt was researching outside investors and financial and management options.
"The agreement will provide financial stability and management services for Hunt, as well as assure retention of a strong local work force," Crow Wing Power announced in a news release. Kraemer termed the partnership as mutually beneficial, noting more than 300 other electric utilities use Hunt's Turtle system worldwide.
Details of the agreement are not yet finalized, although Crow Wing Power stated the two companies will be working together soon in daily operations and planning. The final restructuring agreement and transfer of stock is expected to be signed in the near future, Crow Wing Power stated.
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