Boral Bricks to lay off 70 Augusta workers

The nation’s largest brickmaker will be cooling two of its Augusta kilns in November.

Boral Bricks Inc. on Tuesday announced layoffs to start in 60 days at its facilities on Arthern Road, affecting about 70 employees.

Boral Bricks president, Bob Kepford, said there is a surplus of bricks that need to be absorbed into the housing market and the plant shutdown might last six months.

“This is the second time we’ve had these facilities idled during this downturn. The market for bricks is new home construction and that market is in pretty bad shape,” Kepford said.

The first shutdown was between December 2008 and April 2009. Another facility on Doug Barnard Parkway was closed in July 2009 and still hasn’t restarted.

Boral has 23 brick making plants in the Southeast and only 10 of them are operating, Kepford said.

“We anticipate a return to full operations as market conditions improve,” he said. “The forecasters keep predicting that there’ll be improvement, but that has yet to come in the last two years. We’re hoping that the market will turn a corner here soon.”

The U.S. Commerce Department said Tuesday that builders began work on a seasonally adjusted 571,000 homes in August, a 5 percent decline from July and a three-month low.

Single-family homes, which represent roughly two-thirds of home construction, fell 1.4 percent. Apartment building plunged 12.4 percent.

Home construction is down nearly 6 percent over the past year.

Boral Bricks’ corporate services facility in Augusta, employing 104 people, is not affected by Tuesday’s announcement.

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