The workforce at a Kingscourt factory increased by 10% last week when 14 employees took up their new positions with Gyproc Ireland.
The jobs were announced earlier this month by the manufacturer of plaster and plasterboard, which has now moved to a four-shift operation at its manufacturing facility.
Recruitment for the new positions has already been completed with the additional shift coming into effect last week.
Pat O’Connor, Operations Director of Gyproc and Isover in Ireland, said improved market conditions precipitated the recruitment: “We provide high quality building materials to all constructors in Ireland. As the construction industry recovers it is up to us, the local manufacturers, to make sure we provide appropriate materials for the Irish market. We have to make investment in our plant, our capacity and our people to make sure we are able to meet those needs.”
Gyproc has been involved in many of the biggest commercial building projects on the island of Ireland including; The National Convention Centre, Titanic Belfast, the Bord Gais Energy Theatre and Terminal Two at Dublin Airport.
The new Kingscourt jobs are at two levels: “There are direct jobs as manufacturing technicians and traditional craftspeople, such as fitters and electricians. Over time we have been investing in laboratory, quality, safety and environmental staff,” Mr O’Connor said.
Gyproc employs over 220 people between its head office in Dublin and the Kingscour factory. The announcement is a reflection of an improvement in the building materials supplies over the last few years.
Mr O'Connor says that plans for future expansion will be dealt with on a needs basis: “I think it will happen in steps. Our plant now runs a continuous manufacturing process, but we can flex a certain amount of capacity with our workforce. As business increases further we will have to increase our workforce. The investment we are making gives us capacity for the next year to year and a half, but if the market continues to recover we will have to invest in further roles.”
At present there are 120 employed in manufacturing in Kingscourt. Gyproc is of the Saint-Gobain group. The parent company has over 350 years of experience and prides itself on “its ability to invent products that improve quality of life”. It is one of the top 100 industrial groups in the world and one of the 100 most innovative companies.
The Operations Director of Gyproc and Isover says this is of great benifit to the Kingscourt operation: “As part of Saint-Goban a lot of the 'heavy lifting' is done at central laboratories where they get the real benefit of all the expertise. At a local level we help ourselves. That is about expanding and evolving the existing product range, rather than invent something new.”
“In the last five year we have re-engineered our skim plaster to make it more acceptable for plasters. We have also developed two products, one is an acoustic board and the second is the basic wall board. We have changed the wall board to reduce the amount of Co2 and the weight of the board while maintain its performance properties. This makes it easier for workers on building sites to handle and makes it a better product,” Mr O'Connor explained.
Gyproc services both the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland. The company Operations Director said the fact that up to one third of their business is across the border means that they are preparing themselves for the UK's opting out of Europe.
“We serve the whole island. Between a quarter and a third of what we produce goes into the north. They operate to European regulations at the moment. That is a robust regulatory system. We are just going to have to keep an eye on how things develop, but from our talking to people in the industry we feel nobody is looking to downgrade standards.”
However he is optimistic about the future: “We will face what ever commercial challenges present themselves. We have face massive challenges over the last number of years and we will face them again.”
Mr O’Connor said Gyproc is part of the fabric of the local landscape: “That is at a physical level, the factory and the mines around Kingscourt, but also all the family connections. We have third generations of people working in the company. There are guys with 30 and 40 years service working for the company. That is a huge part of making us successful, and hopeful it is good for the community as well.”