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Henry Brick to ‘temporarily halt production’

Henry Brick announced to employees Tuesday that the company will “temporarily halt production” on Feb. 15.

“We had planned on having this meeting on Wednesday, but the rumors started floating around town that we were going out of business,” said Henry Brick Chairman and CEO Ted Henry. “I wanted to let our people hear the straight news from me rather than what they might hear before tomorrow.”

Approximately 35 employees will be affected by the production halt, something the company has experienced in the past.

“I remember back in the 1960s we used to have a downturn of some sort almost every five years,” Henry said. “The (current) slowdown in shipments started in November of 2006 which resulted in our reducing production for 2007 to 90 million (brick) and this past year we made just over 60 million brick, so it has been quite a drop.”

Henry said a national downturn in the housing market is what has caused the slowdown and that he hoped to resume production in March. but shipping rates seemed to indicate a resumption of production in April.

“The brick industry depends on the housing market, so the slowdown in building has resulted in our industry operating at less than 50 percent,” he said. “There are a number of (other) plants that have been shut down as a result of the present economy.”

Executive Director of the Economic Development Authority Wayne Vardaman said businesses of every kind are being affected across the nation.

“In rough times like these, this happens,” he said. “I hate that the furlough occurred, but they needed to adjust. We will work with the company and do what we can.”

Once the company resumes operation the affected employees will all be brought back, Henry said, but in the meantime they are helping employees with the paperwork they need to file to receive unemployment compensation. He said there are currently 20 employees that are receiving unemployment compensation from when the company shut down a portion of their production last year.

Henry said he expects full production capacity to return as soon as the capitulation in the housing market corrects itself.

“People need houses, so it will return,” he said. “We have two plants in great condition, and we make a good, quality product thanks to a dedicated group of employees. We have a good customer base, so we look forward to meeting the brick needs of our customers in the years ahead.”

Henry Brick has been in business since 1946 and operates two plants in Selma with an annual capacity of almost 120 million brick.