House building boom leads to jobs drive by brickmaker
A house building boom is behind significant investment and staff increases at a Tyrone brick casting firm.
Acheson and Glover (AG), which has factories in Dungannon and Toome, says demand for bricks has doubled recently due to a "nationwide housing boom".
And it has invested over £50,000 and turned on a second curing chamber for the first time in a decade to capitalise on the renewed demand and brick production shortfall.
According to warranty and insurance provider NHBC, 160,606 homes were registered throughout the course of 2017 in the UK, up from the 152,017 the previous year and the highest since pre-recession levels of a decade ago.
Rodney Davidson, head of specification at AG, said while the firm isn't experiencing the levels of demand it did pre-recession, orders are doubling: "Prior to the recession we were producing over 20 million facing bricks per year. Last year we produced six million which was double the year before. It's really exciting times and we see ourselves doubling that figure next year as well."
AG has added three new spec managers to its 300-strong team and is "eagerly trying to recruit 20-30 people" for other roles.
"I'm delighted that we are on an upward trajectory. We've had our most profitable trading year in the last 10-12 years and I see that continuing going forward," said Mr Davidson, who is also hopeful about post-Brexit demand.
"The annual demand for facing bricks in the UK and Ireland is 1.5 billion and the total supply capacity here is 300 million shy of that figure, which means we are importing a lot of bricks from EU countries to meet that requirement, and should Brexit create problems bringing those bricks in then it creates opportunities for us."
Mr Davidson said a resurgence of orders from developers "especially for first-time buyer and social housing projects" has been instrumental in the firm's growth, allowing it to launch its "most extensive new brick specification guide yet".
"There has been a scarcity of facing bricks in the last decade as manufacturers wound down production lines. We're lucky to be in the position we are - dialling up our brick-making facilities to capitalise on the demand for it."