Glassmaker to lay off 150 workers

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A local glass manufacturer has announced a temporary layoff of about 150 employees.

The Ardagh Group has postponed rebuilding one of the glassmaking furnaces at the Wilson plant at 2201 Firestone Parkway until the first quarter of 2018, according to a company statement. A letter to the N.C. Department of Commerce indicated the affected employees are the “least senior employees at the facility.”

“Although the original plan was to complete the rebuild in time to recall the affected employees from layoff before the end of March 2017, changing business conditions resulting from a significant reduction in customer demand and the company’s current inventory levels have necessitated that the rebuild be delayed until January of 2018,” the letter states.

Gina Behrman, director of marketing and communications for Glass-North America said, “softness in the mass beer sector” influenced the decision to postpone the project but declined to comment further about the layoffs. Nearly half of the local workforce will reportedly be affected by the cuts.

“These layoffs are expected to be temporary in nature and not permanent reductions in force,” the letter to the state Commerce Department said.

Earlier this year, the Ardagh Group received a 10-year economic incentive of nearly $842,000 from the county in return for investing more than $40 million in its Wilson County facility. Officials said the incentive will be delayed along with the project.

“We regret that market conditions have forced Ardagh to delay the furnace rebuild at the Wilson plant, with all of the implications for the employees being temporarily laid off,” said Wilson Economic Development Executive Director Jennifer Lantz. “We offer our complete support to the company and look forward to the rebuild early in 2018.”

bhandgraaf@wilsontimes.com | 265-7821