Woodland Park-based Sturman Industries laid off 13 of its employees, or about one-fourth of its staff, Wednesday as a result of delays in payment from a major customer stemming from a dispute, the company's president said.

Carol Sturman, co-owner and CEO of Sturman Industries, declined to identify the customer or the amount of the payment, but said it involved 'a significant amount of cash that is in dispute resolution. To bridge the gap (between revenue and expenses), we had to downsize because we have not received the funding they committed to. '

Sturman Industries has gained attention worldwide for its environmentally friendly digital engine system that is designed to reduce fuel consumption and emissions and increase vehicle performance, based on a digital valve co-founder Eddie Sturman developed for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration for the Apollo space program. U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet, D-Colo., toured the company's Woodland Park headquarters in 2011 and supported the company's bid for a still-to-be-awarded $5 million grant to build and calibrate a new engine that could be mass produced for commercial vehicles.

The layoff included engineers and administrative personnel, leaving the company with 33 to 35 employees and comes after Sturman Industries adopted a four-day work week to cut costs, Sturman said. The company laid off 16 employees in 2009 amid contract cutbacks related to financial problems in the auto industry.

Sturman Industries is trying to expand its reach into the natural gas-powered vehicle market by forming an advisory board earlier this year of natural gas suppliers, users and related organizations to promote commercial use of the company's technology by the natural gas industry, Carol Sturman said. Retail giant Wal-Mart has sent one of its natural gas-powered trucks to Sturman Industries to have its controls installed on the vehicle, a sign that interest is growing in the company's technology and the potential it holds, she said.

Carol Sturman said the company also hopes that the improving economy and real estate market will result in more interest by other companies to build facilities in Sturman Industries' 450-acre Innovation Park business campus on the west side of Woodland Park, which houses the company's headquarters.


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