Fulton brick factory to close temporarily

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FULTON – A Fulton brick factory announced Tuesday it will be closing temporarily due to a downturn in the local firebrick industry. The factory, which operates under HarbisonWalker International, will shut down within the next 60 days.

Bruce Hackmann, economic development director for the Callaway Chamber of Commerce, said business has declined over the past few years. 

“It’s an industry that’s really had a much larger footprint over the last decades, and now it’s reduced considerably in Callaway and Audrain counties,” Hackmann said.

According to Hackmann, the temporary shutdown is also directly tied to downturns in other industries such as steel, oil, gas and aluminum.

“All those industries in this current economy have been affected, so it only makes sense that the firebrick industry would be some sort of an endangered species as well,” Hackmann said.

The factory employs 87 people, many of whom are part of the plant’s veteran workforce. According to Hackmann, the Fulton community remains hopeful the factory will re-open soon.

“These are jobs that, historically, have been the bedrock of this community from an industrial standpoint. It would be a big impact if those were to be lost,” Hackmann said.

But Hackmann remains optimistic of what will come if the shutdown proves to be long-term. “We’re hopeful that if there is a need to try to find jobs for displaced workers, they can be absorbed within this local economy."

Hackmann said the city will work alongside the state to help out workers and their families.