Redland Brick expects to temporarily lay off about 21 employees at Williamsport plant

December 09, 2011|By ANDREW SCHOTZ |

WILLIAMSPORT, Md. — For the second time in two years, Redland Brick has considered temporarily halting or scaling back its local operations because of a poor economy.

This time, the brick company expects to temporarily lay off about 21 employees at its Williamsport-area plant, President and Chief Executive Officer Joseph L. Miles said Friday.

Initially, in a federal notice required before mass layoffs, the company predicted that 60 local employees would temporarily lose their jobs, starting Dec. 23.

However, Redland Brick decided to shut down the machine-moulding operation, but keep the handmade and shaping operations going, preventing more layoffs, Miles said.

According to the federal notice, the temporary layoffs would last at least 60 days, but Miles said there's no way to protect how long they'll be in effect.

Signs of an economic turnaround haven't emerged, he said.

He said the brick industry's shipments, as of September, were down 5 percent this year, including 8 to 10 percent in Redland's geographic region.

This year, the industry will produce less than a third what it did five years ago, Miles said.

Redland Brick had the same dilemma last year.

The company considered temporarily closing its Cushwa plant in the Williamsport area and also filed a federally required notice about its plans. Sixty employees would have been affected, starting Nov. 22, 2010.

But, about a month before the shutdown, Miles said the company had reconsidered and would "gut it out" to stay open.

Miles' downcast assessment on Friday, similar to the one he gave last year, was: "We are in levels not seen since the Great Depression."

Housing construction, a primary driver for the brick market, is sagging, he said.

Redland Brick has 62 employees who part of the Williamsport-area operations. The company's corporate office there has another 40 to 50 employees, Miles said.

He said Redland Brick has shut down operations for now at its moulding plant in Rocky Ridge in Frederick County, Md.

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