KINGSPORT — AGC Flat Glass began laying off employees at its Blue Ridge Plant in Kingsport this week, and more pink slips will be handed out next week.
In November, the company announced plans to shut down one of two production lines at its Kingsport operation in the first quarter of next year. As many as 100 employees who work with the line were expected to be impacted.
On Thursday, company spokesman Chris Correnti said AGC decided to accelerate those plans because of lack of demand in the marketplace.
“One (reason) is basically Christmastime lack of business, and some of it is related to the fact that we’re not rebuilding the K1 line. So instead of waiting until sometime in the first quarter, we’re going to proceed with that a lot faster, just because demand continues to be down and the market is still not very good,” Correnti said.
He said that by Jan. 1, more than 100 employees will be laid off. He said some of those employees may be recalled after the first of the year, depending on market conditions. However, the majority are expected to remain laid off until the company decides to rebuild the K1 production line in Kingsport.
The K1 furnace was scheduled to be rebuilt in the spring, but company officials decided to delay the rebuild and shut down the line indefinitely due to lack of business.
Correnti said some of the affected employees may be given opportunities at other AGC locations.
The Blue Ridge Plant manufactures solar glass, and demand has declined in recent months due to an influx of imported solar glass from China.
AGC’s Church Hill plant is also experiencing layoffs. The facility manufactures architectural glass for residential and commercial construction projects, and Correnti said several employees are being temporarily sent home due to a seasonal slowdown in the construction industry.
“The December time period is incredibly slow, so there will be layoffs there as well, and that’s not unusual. A number of them will happen before the end of the year,” Correnti said. “Most of those (layoffs) will be short term.”
Asked how many employees will be laid off in Church Hill, Correnti said “it could be 20, 30 or more.”
Correnti said he isn’t sure when those folks will be recalled, but he expects that some will return to work in January.
“It’s really based on the market demand and the economy. The quicker things pick up in January, the quicker people will come back to work,” Correnti said.