, one of the Triangle’s best-known high-tech success stories, is laying off more than a fifth of its staff due to the global economic slowdown.

Two vice presidents are among the casualties.

Hatteras has let go 12 people at its headquarters in RTP along with some sales people in North America, Europe, the Middle East and Africa. In all, the company laid of some 20 of its 80-person staff, Chief Executive Officer Kevin Sheehan told WRAL.com and Local Tech Wire.

However, Sheehan said the cuts were not made due to a loss of business. Rather, he said growth continues to be strong, with revenues expected to increase by more than 100 percent this year. Looking into 2009, Sheehan said he wanted to be “proactive” rather than “reactive” to a global economic recession.

Local job cuts included hardware and software engineers as well as the two VPs, whom Sheehan declined to identify.

“We live in the same market that everyone else in the Triangle lives in; we’ve been watching the stock market tumble, and we’ve watched the cost of credit climb incredibly or be unavailable and the sources of traditional external funding to either be much more expensive or much rarer,” Sheehan said.

“We you look at the market in 2009, it’s like a storm approaching on the horizon. … You know all the forecasters are telling you a hurricane is coming. We believe that 2009 will be very challenging, although we haven’t seen any signs of that in our markets.”

Hatteras is not profitable, but is not seeking additional funding at this time, Sheehan added.

“The situation comes down to the path to profitability,” he said. “We were on a good, healthy path before the economy collapsed, when Wall Street collapsed and the global financial markets collapsed.

“You get generally greater concern to get to profitability faster,” he explained, referring to Hatteras and other venture-backed companies. “The only ways to get there are sell more or spend less – or both. We’re trying to sell more every day. Not to make light of the situation, but we had to tighten our belt to spend less.”

Just last week, the Triangle Business Journal ranked Hatteras 11th among the 50 fastest-growing, privately held companies in the RTP area. Selection was based on financial results over the past three years.

Hatteras, which has raised some $89 million in venture capital since its launch in 2001, expanded aggressively over the past two years. It expanded or established a presence in several countries around the world, selling networking equipment that enables high-speed, or Ethernet capability, over traditional copper-based networks.

In fact, Hatteras has touted its success in landing customers on six continents.

Hatteras products have won numerous industry awards, and Sheehan received a “Stevie” award as best executive in telecommunications in June at the sixth annual American Business Awards.

In July of 2006, Hatteras landed $21 million in new venture capital and immediately embarked on plans to build an international sales organization. Hatteras is seeking to broaden its customer base among communications providers in a global Ethernet upgrade market that is expected to total $8 billion in 2009, according to Infonetics Research.

Sheehan also noted that in a recent survey, the respected publication ranked Hatteras as No. 1in the so-called mid-band Ethernet market. Several much larger public companies are Hatteras competitors.

Sheehan and his management team made the layoff decisions,he added. He said Hatteras’ venture investors remain loyal to the business and that Hatteras still has cash from them.