Sun Engineering in downtown Saline has laid off all its employees.
The firm, which moved to its offices and manufacturing facility at 118 E. Michigan Ave. two years ago, watched business come to a complete halt in the last six months.
President and founder Andrew Warner said Sun Engineering let approximately 50 employees go and the building is available for sale or lease.
“Government spending on the types of programs we worked on, which were mainly missile defense and ground-based radar systems, basically dried up,” said Warner, who moved the company to Saline from Pittsfield Township. “The current administration and current Congress canceled programs that we participated in at a rate that I couldn’t have imagined a couple years ago.”
Warner said that there remains only a small amount of business in the field, and that larger companies are buying that business at prices they know aren’t profitable.
“They know they are going to take dramatic losses and they take the business for the sake of having business and I can’t afford to do that,” Warner said. “It’s not just Sun Engineering. I can give you at least three other businesses here in Michigan that have (been dramatically affected) in this same market.”
Warner said the company had a year’s worth of business backlogged before it even had its manufacturing operation open and enjoyed nearly a year and a half of brisk business before the federal contracts dried up.
“We went gangbusters for the first 16 months. Business was strong. We’d built a manufacturing system out of nothing. We hired almost 50 people and really went at it hard. It looked like a successful business,” Warner said.
Warner suggested the changing political winds in Washington were the undoing of the business.
When asked about the potential of rebuilding the business if a Mitt Romney is elected in November Warner said he is unable to hold out that long.
Warner said that a company is looking at buying the building, which he said would be great for the city and for himself. If not, all the space is for lease, he said.
“We have tenants in here and we have more space to fill. We have ‘class A’ office space and very nice manufacturing space available,” Warner said.
Warner, meanwhile, has gone back to his roots, starting an engineering services business called Wartech Engineering LLC.
“I’ve fallen back to what I was doing 16 years ago. Frankly, I know how to run that business and I was successful with that,” he said.
He said that if could do Sun Engineering all over again, he would.
“I’ve always built this business for a higher calling,” Warner said. “Building the country’s military and supplying the men and women who serve in it is a higher calling. It’s really important work we do.”
In May of 2012, the company paid $1.3 million for the 62,000-square-foot office and manufacturing facility that was once home to R&B Machine Tool.
Anyone interested in leasing space can call 734-662-1234.