Sabian, whose high-quality cymbals are known to drummers around the world, has cut about 20 per cent of its workforce.
Sabian is in the tiny village of Meductic, about 75 kilometres west of Fredericton on the St. John River.
Fifteen employees in Meductic and four in the United States have been laid off, Mike Connell, the chief operating officer, said Wednesday. Some workers chose to retire to lessen the impact on younger employees, he said.
More than 60 people still work for the company.
Connell said the pandemic has caused a lot of uncertainty.
"It's been quite difficult, just the uncertainty of dealing with … you don't know what orders are going to be like. You know, dealing with the people, dealing with the new reality of COVID and workplace processes and procedures that you have to put into place."
In March, as the pandemic hit, Sabian laid off about 80 per cent of its staff but gradually brought employees back.
"It's become fairly evident that we're sort of at a level where we're going to settle out for a bit, so we thought it best that … rather than keep people in a state of uncertainty that we give them that certainty and we move forward," Connell said.
Connell said the plant in Meductic is fairly large, and arrangements have been made to make sure employees are safe.
"We screen people when they come in, we screen them part way through the day, lunch breaks. We've had to stagger lunch breaks and coffee breaks even the hours of work in the factory. We've staggered those a little bit to even out the flow of people coming and going in the morning."
Sabian's cymbals have been used by musicians who include Phil Collins, Tyler Stewart of Barenaked Ladies and Rush's Neil Peart.
But the pandemic has led to a drop in demand, Connell said.
He's optimistic things will eventually turn around but is concerned about what will happen over the next year.
The Sabian job cuts are classified as permanent, but the door is open to bring people back if things turn around.