3D printer MakerBot's PR leader not spared as it cuts 20% of workforce

MakerBot cut about 100 staffers, including PR director Jenifer Howard, as it integrates with parent company Stratasys.

MakerBot's 3D printers
MakerBot's 3D printers

NEW YORK: 3D printing company MakerBot axed its PR director Jenifer Howard amid mass layoffs.

Howard was one of about 100 people, or 20% of staff, laid off from the company earlier this month. She exited MakerBot on April 17.

The layoffs are part of a restructure as MakerBot integrates with Stratasys, which acquired the company in 2013 for $403 million. Brooklyn-based MakerBot also closed its three retail locations, including a flagship store in New York City’s Nolita neighborhood.

Founded in 2009, MakerBot became one of the most well-known companies in the 3D printing market. Stratasys executive Jonathan Jaglom took over MakerBot as CEO earlier this year, replacing chief exec Jenny Lawton, who moved to the parent company to become EVP of special projects. Founder and former CEO Bre Pettis had left MakerBot after the acquisition.

"I was with MakerBot through a huge, tremendous growth phrase," Howard said. "It was exciting to be part of such a disruptive industry and I’m proud of what was accomplished."

Howard told PRWeek that she saw the restructure coming and decided to hire former Garmin PR manager Johan-Till Broer as public relations manager at the beginning of the year. He maintained his title with Howard’s departure, she said.

Broer confirmed via email that he will lead MakerBot’s PR going forward.

He added that he has "tremendous respect" for everything Howard has done for the company over the last few years.

"One of my priorities will be to maintain and strengthen MakerBot's thought leadership position in the desktop 3D printing industry," said Broer. "We're refocusing our efforts on the education and professional markets and I will put a strong focus on reaching these audiences."

Broer said he will also continue to tell stories about the "use of desktop 3D printing in schools and in professional settings as a catalyst for the broader consumer adoption of the technology."

Since joining MakerBot in 2012, Howard helped launch numerous products and partnerships, and communicated through the company’s merger with Stratasys.

During her tenure, she worked with Ketchum on a project basis. Last year Ketchum helped MakerBot with its in-store pilot program as it partnered with retailers such as Home Depot and Staples to bring 3D printers to consumers, Howard said.

Prior to MakerBot, Howard ran her own boutique agency J. Howard Public Relations for 16 years. She will spend the coming months reviving that business and considering new opportunities, she said.

"I am excited to focus back on my own agency, where I will be focused on aiding clients in the tech and startup communities, as well as consumer products and the music industry," she said.

This story was updated on April 30 to include comment from Broer.

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