Parkertown concrete plant resumes operations

GROTON TWP. Bad tidings in Elyria's housing market has been good news for some workers here.
May 24, 2010



Bad tidings in Elyria's housing market has been good news for some workers here.

As new-home construction ground to a halt in Elyria Concrete Inc.'s hometown, the company shifted its focus to its western plants, including this one on Portland Road in the Parkertown area.

The plant, more or less idle for several years, is firing up for the construction season with jobs for a dozen people.

"We're trying to take advantage of there being good people out there in the market that we can hire," Elyria Concrete vice president David Walls said.

Most of the cement-truck operators were unemployed before starting at Elyria Concrete in February. Several declined to speak on the record because of non-compete agreements with the companies that laid them off.

Bob Wadding, a Perkins Township resident, was not as shy. He was laid off in July from a job as a mechanic at Thackar Aluminum Corp. in Sandusky.

"It sucks being laid off," he said. "You just don't feel good about yourself."

He said Elyria Concrete treats and pays its employees well, giving them a full 40 hours of work each week and benefits.

"That's more than anybody can ask right now," he said.

Pat McGuire was part of the skeleton crew running the plant last year -- two or three people, depending on the day.

Now there are seven drivers and two maintenance men, he said, and a few more may be hired, if qualified workers can be found.

Despite the down economy, the employees are optimistic they'll be busy.

"From what the contractors are telling us, there's work coming," McGuire said.

Infrastructure is a big priority for the federal government, and building highways and schools takes plenty of concrete.

It was an infrastructure project that fueled the Parkertown plant years ago -- the construction of a third lane along the nearby Ohio Turnpike.

But that was about seven years ago, Walls said, and afterward Elyria Concrete chose to focus on home construction close to home.

"There wasn't a whole lot of housing going on in Erie and Huron County," he said. "I expect to do more warehousing and commercial work out that way."

Walls said the company has reduced its staff in Elyria from about 24 to 12 through attrition, which allows for the new hires. Elyria Concrete also has plants in Sandusky and Port Clinton.

Although being out of work was no fun for Wadding, 40, he's glad to be back in the industry where he started working at age 18.

"I've been in concrete for about 20 years," he said. "This is where I belong."