The winter storm that disrupted resin production is prompting a potential layoff at Bedford Reinforced Plastics Inc.
The Bedford, Pa.-based pultruder of structural fiberglass profiles notified employees and state officials that 80-100 temporary layoffs are possible.
Company officials are concerned about the supply of several raw materials, particularly polyester resin, following force majeure sales limits set two months ago, according to Mike Feight, BRP's sales and purchasing manager.
"We may not be able to receive enough raw materials for continuous operations," Feight said in a phone interview. "We gave this notice in the unlikely event we would have to shut down because of the force majeure in the industry."
Founded in 1974, the family-owned company manufactures structural shapes from fiberglass-reinforced plastic for aquariums, theme parks, pedestrian bridges and uses in the marine, utility, mining and water treatment markets.
BRP has about 250 employees working at three Bedford facilities, including the headquarters, a manufacturing plant, and a fabrication and assembly plant.
Winter Storm Uri knocked out electricity and natural gas for days at some resin production sites. Many suppliers warned that getting back to pre-storm production levels could take months with challenges for resin buyers through the first half of 2021.
BRP officials are feeling the crunch.
A temporary plant closure is possible as soon as the end of the month. Eighty to 100 employees could be out of work during any 30-day period from late April through June, according to an April 8 letter to BRP employees, Bedford elected officials and the Pennsylvania Dislocated Worker Unit.
BRP officials said they learned about the material shortage in late March from a primary vendor, Ineos Composites.
"They informed us of an unprecedented supply disruption in their chemical feedstock chain," the April 8 letter says. "These circumstances are beyond their reasonable control."
Now BRP is facing a "severe" disruption of key raw materials.
"This disruption and resulting shortage of supply will greatly increase the prices of key raw materials, thereby leading to the likelihood of a disruption in sales," the April 8 letter says.
BRP officials do not expect the situation to reach that point, but they have alerted all parties that it could.
"We have no intent of shutting down, but if something happens to resin supply, we can't produce without it," Feight said.