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General Shale announces layoff of 50 workers at Johnson City plant

Jeff Keeling • Jan 28, 2009 at 12:00 AM

JOHNSON CITY — General Shale Brick managed to keep workers at its Johnson City brick plant employed for several months past an expected layoff date announced in July, but the day of reckoning finally comes Friday, a company spokesman said Wednesday.

Mark Kinser said about 50 people will be laid off in what he described as a temporary shutdown based on demand. When inventories dwindle and demand for the style of brick produced only at the Broadway Street plant picks up, the company will begin bringing people back to work.

In the meantime, sales and deliveries will continue out of the location. Its “key brick” is a residential product called the “Nottingham Tudor.”

In July, the company announced it would lay those same workers off Sept. 15.

“We were pleased that we were able to keep the employees working through most of the winter,” Kinser said.

“The products out of that plant were in demand enough to keep inventory somewhat level for a few more months, but then inventory just built to the point where we had to make this announcement and shut the plant down.”

The leading exterior building materials maker in the United States, General Shale has not been immune from the residential building contraction of the past year-plus. It shut down its Kingsport plant last year.

The affected employees learned of Friday’s coming layoff on Jan. 13, Kinser said, adding that the company isn’t able to project when demand will lead to a restart of production. Having been released for lack of work, the employees will qualify for unemployment benefits.

Headquartered in Johnson City, General Shale was founded in 1928 and sold to an Austrian company, Wienerberger Group, in 1999. It has purchased brick and stone companies in Colorado and Canada over the past three years.

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