A Cary company founded before the Great Depression "took a big hit" during the latest global recession.
Lord Corp. makes adhesives, coatings and other products that help other manufacturers control noise and vibration in vehicles, heavy equipment, airplanes and more.
Monthly sales peaked at $70 million in June 2008, and then fell to $43 million in February 2009, CEO Rick McNeel said during a break at the N.C. CEO Forum in Raleigh on Tuesday.
Sales to customers such as Caterpillar, Deere and Harley-Davidson "just went plunk," he said. Sales have since rebounded, but "we're still not where we were," added McNeel, who joined Lord as CEO in December 2002.
Monthly sales during the each of past two months rose to about $61 million, he said.
The private company responded to the downturn by cutting about 8 percent of its global workforce. Lord, which was founded in 1924, now employs about 2,500 people worldwide, including 300 in Cary.
Lord also reduced other expenses, including spending on travel, computers, relocation and recruiting, McNeel said. There were no raises last year and some employees took week furloughs.
The cuts allowed the company to continue reinvesting 8-10 percent of its revenue into research and development. That effort led to new products such as a coating to help protect airplanes from lightening strikes, McNeel told the audience at the Raleigh forum.
And as the worst of the recession passed, Lord has begun hiring again, he said.