Anchor Glass to curtail production in December

Anchor Glass Container Corp. will temporarily curtail production at its Salem plant next month, a company executive said Friday.

Two of three glass furnaces will be "temporarily" taken out of production, said Bob Blyth, corporate vice president of Human Resources. The process will begin Dec. 3.

The decision involves layoffs, but Blyth could not specify how many employees would be laid off. Salem workers will be recalled once the two furnaces go back into production in January, he said.

He said the company finds itself with inventory greater than sales demand.

"This is a temporary curtailment of production," Blyth said.

At the plant, Anchor produces a number of glass bottle products for businesses such as the beverage company Snapple.

The news of the impending curtailment in production here came nearly a week after the company closed a plant in Connellsville, Pa. Around 300 employees lost their jobs, some during their shifts.

Commenting on the Pennsylvania plant, a company executive wrote, "our recently completed analysis of Anchor Glass' existing capacity, given the current industry environment, indicated that this plant's economics could not be improved materially."

Blyth said officials did not consider closing the Salem plant, but he could not say that option has been ruled out for the future.

Anchor Glass is the third leading glass manufacturer in the nation and has its headquarters in Tampa, Fla. It operates eight plants, including the plant in Salem.

In 2002, the company filed for Chapter 11 protection. Last week, the company posted a net loss of $5.9 million in the third quarter.

Stock in the company was selling at just over $5 a share on Wall Street Friday.

County government estimated Anchor employed 350 people in Salem County.

"We value them as a long-term employer in Salem County," said Jim Waddington, director of economic development. "We'd like to see them continue to be viable in Salem County."

The glass industry faces competition from overseas markets, in China, Korea and Taiwan, according to the head of an industry trade organization.

"In the long run, the glass industry and U.S. materials manufacturing industries in general cannot compete effectively with low labor rate parts of the world using equal technology," said Michael Greenman, executive director of the Glass Manufacturing Industry Council, based in Ohio.

The solution, he said "is to stay ahead of the technology curve with new processes developing new materials and new markets on an ongoing basis."

Companies are moving in the direction by developing stronger glass, evident in products such as glass stair cases.

Anchor Glass is the last operating glass factory in Salem County.

At the turn of the century several plants operated in the county and around South Jersey.

Salem County was the site of the first successful commercial glass works in the Colonies. In the 1700s, the Wistars established the Wistarburg Glass Works in Alloway Township.

The availability of good sand for the manufacture of glass and wood to fuel the furnaces was one of the reasons for the success of the early glass works.

600450 Anchor Glass to curtail production in December

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