Business & Real Estate

New CEO of Rancho Cordova aerospace company Aerojet commits to layoffs

Aerojet Rocketdyne plans to eliminate 40 percent of the manufacturing and office space at its Rancho Cordova site.
Aerojet Rocketdyne plans to eliminate 40 percent of the manufacturing and office space at its Rancho Cordova site. Sacramento Bee file

The new chief executive of Aerojet Rocketdyne Holdings Inc. has reaffirmed the company’s commitment to a cost-cutting drive that is expected to eliminate 250 jobs at its Rancho Cordova headquarters over the next four years.

Eileen Drake, who was named CEO of the rocket-engine manufacturer two weeks ago, said she would keep a “huge focus” on reducing Aerojet’s costs. In particular, she said Aerojet needs to get more efficient after its 2013 purchase of the Rocketdyne business from United Technologies’ Pratt & Whitney unit.

“We have to be sure that we really work as one company,” Drake said in an interview Sunday with Reuters. The interview, which took place at the Paris Air Show, was her first since becoming CEO.

Drake’s predecessor, Scott Seymour, announced the efficiency drive in early March. Coming off a $53 million loss in 2014, the company said it would reduce its nationwide workforce by 10 percent, eliminating 500 jobs. About half of the job cuts will take place at Rancho Cordova and will amount to a reduction of about 16 percent of the site’s workforce of 1,600.

Aerojet also plans to eliminate 40 percent of the manufacturing and office space at Rancho Cordova. The company said it expects to transfer some of its Rancho Cordova manufacturing operations to other locations with lower costs. Aerojet operates 14 sites from coast to coast.

Drake, who used to work at United Technologies, joined Aerojet as chief operating officer in early March. The cost-cutting program was announced a few days later. She was elevated to president and CEO after Seymour resigned for health reasons.

The $550 million Rocketdyne purchase vastly expanded Aerojet’s manufacturing capacity but has already resulted in job cuts as the company seeks to eliminate duplication. Last year, the company laid off 61 workers in Rancho Cordova and 160 at Rocketdyne’s office northwest of Los Angeles.

Aside from its aerospace business, Aerojet has been working in recent years to generate cash from the vast land holdings surrounding its Rancho Cordova site. Last week, it completed the $57 million sale of 703 acres to a development firm.

Aerojet shares closed Monday at $20.60, up 38 cents, on the New York Stock Exchange.

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