Tait Justin Timberlake

This 2014 photo shows a moving bridge designed and manufactured by Tait for Justin Timberlake.

Tait, the Lititz-based creator of dazzling staging used in live events worldwide, has furloughed 255 employees here due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the company has told the state.

In a filing with the state to comply with the Worker Adjustment & Retraining Notification (WARN) Act, Tait said the cuts are temporary. They were effective March 30.

The furloughs leave Tait with 206 employees in Lititz, a Tait spokeswoman said Tuesday.

In addition, Tait’s top two executives – Adam Davis, chief creative officer, and James “Winky” Fairorth, chief executive officer – have eliminated their own pay, while the company’s other nine executives took a 50% pay cut, the spokeswoman said.

The live-event industry collapsed in March due to the realization that even modest-sized gatherings can spread the potentially fatal virus.

“Though our financial position is strong in the market, we need to take critical actions to reduce costs to sustain our business through the pandemic…,” said Chief People Officer Christian Recknagel in a prepared statement.

“We remain actively working on core business projects as well as local COVID relief efforts, and we are determined to retain as many staff as we can so we can recover strong and remain the industry leader,” said Recknagel.

Tait said the idled workers remain covered by health insurance, fully paid by the company. They will be recalled on an as-needed basis.

The furloughs came a week after Tait used its Facebook page and website to announce its ability to pivot from live events to fighting the outbreak, saying it’s “ready, willing and able to deploy emergency resources during the COVID-19 pandemic.”

In its marketing pitch, the company said: “Tait has collective experience spanning many decades to quickly deploy portable + temporary structures as well as construct and deliver a suite of solutions including manufacturing, fabrication, design, engineering, logistics and field support with over hundreds of skilled workers available to take action.”

Tait already has had some success with its pivot, producing more than 2,000 checkout shields for pharmacies, drug stores and Lancaster General Health, and 1,000 face shields for Lancaster-based Emerald Foundation to deliver to first responders.  

Tait is the world leader in designing and manufacturing staging used by rock bands on tour, as well as installations for theaters, cruise ships, corporate events and other settings.

The live-event industry is one of many in Lancaster County, the state and nation to be crushed by the pandemic, joining the lodging, restaurant, retail and other fields essentially shut down by governors in an effort to limit the havoc caused by the pandemic.