After spending the last couple of months to acquire a $9 million stake in a European drone manufacturing firm and buying out an AI-based software company for an undisclosed sum, Aquiline Drones has quietly laid off nearly half of its workforce.
September 30 was the last working day for 33 of Aquiline Drones’ employees. Of these, 13 were let go from the manufacturing floor while another 20 staff members were removed from their roles in customer service and sales departments.
Now, 42 full-time employees remain in the company’s workforce.
Barry Alexander, CEO, Aquiline Drones, explained his decision in an email to local news outlet Hartford Courant:
Our country is currently in a manufacturing crisis. As I write, there is a record-breaking number of delayed cargo ships not being able to bring supplies and goods into their respective ports, which has affected to American manufacturing supply chain across the board, Aquiline Drones included.
Alexander further said the drone manufacturer was hurt by travel restrictions that hampered the team from meeting with potential new clients.
That said, Alexander expresses hope that those who’ve lost their jobs would be hired back once the economic issues are resolved. But with supply chain restrictions hitting US companies every step of the way, how soon would that be is anybody’s guess.
According to industry group Manufacture CT, which represents manufacturers across Connecticut, raw material prices are up “exponentially” and the delivery timeline for parts and materials has shot up from the pre-pandemic levels of four to six weeks to about 12 weeks now.
Jamison Scott, executive director of Manufacture CT, says:
You’re buying items without even knowing what you are going to pay for them just to ensure that you will have the materials, which is unheard of. As manufacturers, we’re all really struggling.
In Hartford though, Aquiline Drones has been heralded as a shining example of Connecticut’s economic growth by Governor Ned Lamont, who even paid a visit to the company’s downtown office earlier this year.
At the same time, the press statements that have come out of the company in recent weeks have also painted a different picture. On September 15, Alexander announced the acquisition of ElluminAI Labs as the “second strategic acquisition in the company’s pre-IPO plan” – the first being the purchase of 50% of Netherlands-based AerialTronics for $9 million from Paris-based Drone Volt in August.
And only two days before canning 33 employees, Alexander was seen bragging about “building Connecticut’s only drone manufacturing plant during a pandemic” at a local event.
Interestingly, Aquiline Drones is promoting its drone pilot training program right now with promises of a “six-figure salary” and “lots of jobs nationwide.” Maybe that’s something former employees could consider while the company gets back on its feet.
Photos: Aquiline Drones Facebook page