01/15/08 — GAF closes Goldsboro plant

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GAF closes Goldsboro plant

By Matthew Whittle
Published in News on January 15, 2008 1:46 PM

GAF Materials Corp. announced Monday that it plans to shut down operations at its Goldsboro roofing materials plant on Jan. 31, ending the employment of 108 workers.

Also affected by the company's trimming will be a similar mid-sized plant in Quakertown, Pa.

Both facilities produce shingles.

"The nearly unprecedented decline in the housing market in 2007 has created extremely challenging market conditions for GAF, as it has for many other roofing manufacturers, and has resulted in a significant decline in demand for residential roofing materials," said Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer Dick Nowak in a written statement. "These market conditions have made improving production efficiency and our competitiveness even higher priorities than usual.

"We explored options to improve our competitiveness, but unfortunately, reducing excess manufacturing capacity is a necessity."

The problem, explained Roger Assad, vice president-law, is that the Goldsboro and Quakertown plants are two of the company's smallest -- both two-wide manufacturing lines.

"The larger facilities run four wide, which has twice the capacity and efficiency as a two-wide laminator," he said. "And unfortunately, the best decision for the company is not the best decision for the employees."

Wayne County Development Alliance Existing Industry Specialist Mike Haney speculated that increasing transportation and raw material costs also contributed to the decision.

GAF has operated the Goldsboro plant since 1998 when it purchased the assets from a competitor who was shutting down operations.

In his written statement, Nowak emphasized that the shut-downs were "not a reflection on the Quakertown or Goldsboro employees."

"Their energy, dedication and solid performance made these closing decisions especially difficult," he said.

But, Haney added, those qualities should make it easier for those employees to find new jobs.

"These are pretty high quality and dedicated employees. I think we can replace these (jobs)," he said. "Obviously it's not good news, but with the low rate of unemployment that we have and with some of the industries we have looking (for employees), I think we can absorb most, if not all of them."

In 2007, the announced the long-term creation of more than 1,000 new jobs over the next five years.

By the close of business Monday, Haney and Bill Pate, the manager of the Goldsboro branch of the N.C. Employment Security Commission, were already on the phone looking for help in getting these employees new jobs.

"We're going to work to replace these jobs," Haney said.

Among the newly unemployed are likely to be electrical technicians, maintenance technicians and production technicians.

"I don't expect them to last long out there. I expect they'll be absorbed by other industries," he said. "It's unfortunate. I hate to see this happen. GAF has been a good partner for us."

He does not know, though, what will happen with the Old Mount Olive Highway facility, which is owned by GAF.

"It'd have to be the right industry to go in there. Those discussions will have to held down the road," Haney said.

The plant is expected to end operations on Jan. 31 and be fully decommissioned and closed by the end of March.

Employees are being offered separation packages and the opportunity for continue medical benefits. Layoffs have already begun.

GAF is the operating name for Building Materials Corp. of America, North America's largest manufacturer of residential and commercial roofing products and specialty building products. It's annual net sales are approximately $2.9 billion. It distributes its product under the GAF and GAF-Elk brands.