Layoffs at Beehive Industries: A Reflection of the Larger Manufacturing Sector

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In recent developments, Beehive Industries, formerly known as Falconwing Technologies, has seen an abrupt reduction in its workforce. As confirmed by an insider who chose to remain anonymous, the company has implemented significant layoffs at its Cincinnati offices, affecting 28 employees. This figure represents a significant cut, at least 18% of its workforce if the company’s LinkedIn profile indicating over 150 employees is close to the actual number. A quick browse through LinkedIn further reveals that several former employees have already declared they are “open to work,” posting their resumes online in search of new opportunities. Despite the unsettling circumstances, our source remains optimistic about the talent pool in the sector and the potential for new career trajectories.

Meanwhile, the manufacturing sector at large appears to be caught in a similar upheaval. According to US Bureau of Labor Statistics data, the sector accounted for 24% of mass layoffs in April. Overall, the first quarter of 2010 saw 1,564 mass layoff events, resulting in the furlough of 221,150 workers for at least 31 days. Despite these alarming statistics, supply chains are recovering from the debilitating effects of the pandemic and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, and manufacturing backlogs are declining. However, the demand for manufactured goods has seen a downturn as consumers and businesses pivot towards experiences such as travel and dining out. These broader trends raise the question: Is Beehive Industries riding a downward wave with the rest of the US manufacturing market, or is this just an isolated setback?

Beehive Industries manufacturing line. Image courtesy of Beehive Industries.

It’s noteworthy that Beehive Industries operates in a market shared with other firms leveraging 3D printing in jet engine manufacturing. This includes established players like GE Aviation (BCBA: GE), Pratt & Whitney, Boeing (BCBA: BA), Lockheed Martin (BCBA: LMT), and Aerojet Rocketdyne (NYSE: AJRD), as well as rising players such as Relativity Space, Boom Supersonic, Rocket Lab (Nasdaq: RKLB), and startups like Firehawk Aerospace, Aeon Engine Solutions, Beta Technologies, and Hypersonix Launch Systems.

However, this shared space has not been immune to layoffs either. Pratt & Whitney shut down its Israel operations in December 2022, laying off 900 staff. Boeing cut 2,000 human resources and finance jobs in 2023, albeit preparing to hire 10,000 new engineering and manufacturing employees. Lockheed Martin announced layoffs of 176 workers based in southern Maryland. Also, this year, Ursa Major and Virgin Orbit have seen substantial workforce reductions, laying off more than a quarter of their staff, with Virgin Orbit shutting down its operations after filing for Chapter 11. Both companies share the 3D manufacturing space in aerospace, particularly in space.

Manufacturing industrial gas turbines. Image courtesy of Beehive Industries.

Beehive Industries says it is a key player in the American technology development and manufacturing landscape as a key partner for the defense and aerospace sectors. Its mission is to reindustrialize America by creating “industry-defining innovations” within the US and serving clients across various administrative levels. Furthermore, Beehive anticipates that the opportunities arising from the Infrastructure and Jobs Act (a $1 trillion law that funds a wide array of infrastructure improvements across the nation) will lead to an increase in contracts with both public and private partners managing resources in the water, broadband, and sewer infrastructure sectors.

In its quest to reindustrialize the US, the company’s proprietary blend of cloud-based integrated software systems is a unique asset, says CEO Mohammad Ehteshami, who acknowledges the venture-backed support in accelerating Beehive’s go-to-market strategy. With its AS9100 certification, Beehive leverages AM technologies, offering high-precision, aerospace-level parts to customers. As a one-stop solution, Beehive relies on its extensive fleet, which includes one of the world’s largest congregations of X-Line printers, to streamline the manufacturing process, solving complex problems while saving time and cost.

Beehive’s growth strategy includes successful venture funding rounds and strategic acquisitions. Following several funding rounds, starting in 2014, the company has secured $12.3 million in venture capital. In 2021, Beehive made two significant acquisitions: Volunteer Aerospace and Eagle Engineered Solutions. Both companies are notable players in the 3D printing sector. These strategic acquisitions expanded Beehive’s capabilities and resources and enhanced its presence in the 3D printing landscape, bringing it closer to its objective of stimulating growth and scalability in the American manufacturing sector.

NASA’s Lunar Flashlight equipped with several 3D printed propulsion components made by Beehive Industries. Image courtesy of Beehive Industries.

While Beehive Industries, and companies like it, are laser-focused on reindustrializing the US, their goals are not immune from the economic uncertainties that have trickled across the nation since the second half of 2022. Even the most ambitious companies cannot escape the pitfalls of a turbulent economy. Experts point to signs of a looming recession — such as decreased hiring and increased layoffs, particularly in the manufacturing sector — becoming increasingly prevalent.

Manufacturing, at the heart of Beehive’s operations, has recorded some of its lowest levels this year. According to the ISM’s Purchasing Managers’ Index, the sector hit a 12-month low of 46% in June, a clear indicator of economic decline. This troubling drop in production levels has been attributed to declining demand and confidence in a potential second-half rebound. This has caused layoffs to rise, which has not shocked many economic analysts, who “saw it coming.”

In this broader economic turbulence context, layoffs affect workers across various sectors. As Les Leopold, the executive director of the Labor Institute in New York City, points out, mass layoffs, often attributed to globalization and technology, claimed more than 159,000 tech workers in 2022 and an additional 78,000 in January 2023 alone. Since 1996, mass layoffs have affected nearly a fifth of the US labor force or more than 30 million workers. Leopold questions the narrative that these layoffs are an inevitable product of the global economy and technological advancement, arguing instead that they “result from human decisions driven by policies set by humans, not robots.”

Considering these developments, it remains to be seen how Beehive Industries and the wider additive manufacturing sector will navigate the current economic turbulence and what strategies they will employ to stabilize and thrive.

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