Boral Bricks might expand in Augusta as Meridian

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Bricks are fired in the kiln at the Boral Bricks plant in east Augusta in this file image. The company, which merged with another brick maker late last year, was renamed Meridian Brick last month. STAFF/FILE

The recent merger between suburban Atlanta-based Boral Bricks and Charlotte, N.C.-based Forterra Brick could have resulted in the new company moving more than 65 white-collar jobs out of Augusta.

But on Wednesday, the chief executive of the merged company said the quality and stability of its Augusta employees caused the company to seek reductions in its “back office” operations in Charlotte instead.

“We have a lot of long-term, tenured employees who know our business and our customers there in Augusta,” Meridian Brick LLC CEO Paul Samples said in a telephone interview . “We have a very stable workforce in Augusta. Once we find the right employee, that relationship usually lasts for decades.”

Under Boral, the company’s Augusta office on Doug Barnard Parkway oversaw all North American administrative operations, such as payroll, benefits and accounts payable and receivable. Forterra’s Charlotte office performed similar functions for that company.

Samples said the merged company, renamed Meridian last month, studied consolidating the offices in Roswell, Ga., but decided it was not worth disrupting the smooth-running local operation.

“We were very hesitant to unplug all that experience and rebuild it somewhere else,” said Samples, who started with the company more than 30 years ago as a customer service representative in the Augusta operations Boral acquired from Merry Brothers in 1981.

Samples said the Boral-Forterra merger, which creates North America’s largest brick manufacturer, could lead to additional employment in the Augusta administrative office as well as its east Augusta brick manufacturing plant, where 40 employees produce about 120 million clay bricks per year.

Brick production declined during the past recession as homebuilders shifting production to more “affordable” housing. However, Samples said the Augusta plant is so efficient compared to many of Meridan’s 27 sites in the U.S. and Canada that it might add a second shift, which would essentially double employment.

“I think we’ll see utilization of the Augusta operation increase,” Samples said.

Meridian also operates a Boral retail showroom on Belair Frontage Road. He said Boral signs at all company locations will be changed to Meridian in the coming months.

Reach Damon Cline at (706) 823-3352 or damon.cline@augustachronicle.com.

By Damon Cline Thu, Feb 09, 2017 @ 11:02 pm