For the second straight winter, Ash Grove Cement Co. will temporarily reduce its workforce at its plant in Montana City, as the company continues to see soft demand for its products.
Plant manager Dick Johnson said 33 workers will be sent home after their shifts on Friday, December 3. It’s unclear exactly when the workers will be called back, "but we’re pretty sure it won’t go much later than the first of March," Johnson said.
The Overland Park, Kansas-based firm announced the cutbacks at all eight of its cement manufacturing plants (Montana City is the company’s smallest) as well as at a grinding plant in Inkom, Idaho. All told, around 500 of the privately-held company’s 2500 employees will be affected, with some plants sending workers home as soon as November 22 and others not shuttering until late December.
"The economic downturn affecting the entire cement industry has not abated in 2010," spokeswoman Jacqueline Clark said in a statement.
The temporary layoffs won’t cut as deeply as they did last winter, when 50 of the plant’s 79 employees were sent home.
"While we’re down, we’re going to do some maintenance this year," Johnson said, so more workers will stay on the clock while the plant isn’t in production.
Johnson said the first nine months of 2010 were essentially a "spitting image" of 2009 from a business perspective for the company. As happened a year ago, inventories have built up that the company has enough cement on hand to meet demand through the winter without making more.