The last of 90 workers laid off at Formica Corp.'s suburban Cincinnati facilities returned to work May 20 at new jobs in the expanding facility, with another 110 distribution employees coming to the plant from Indianapolis in the coming weeks. The firm also said it will spend nearly $15 million on new construction and machinery during the next three years at the Even-dale, Ohio, operations, which have replaced Wayne, N.J., as Formica's North American headquarters. The current plant produces roughly half of the company's proprietary laminated plastic and ``solid surface'' products.
Also included in Formica's expansion plans is a foray into laminated flooring products in an exclusive arrangement with Ell-strom Manufacturing of Seattle, the company said. The products, to include laminated wood and composite panels for construction, marine and aerospace uses, will be made in Seattle and available later this summer.
The venture will operate as Stel Industries Inc.
Gene Hughes, financial secretary for the International Union of Electrical Workers Local 757, representing Formica plant workers in Evendale, said ``the last few [employees] that were laid off in March'' were scheduled to return to work on May 20.
``We're getting back what we lost,'' Hughes said. IUE is the only labor union representing workers in the Ohio plant.
Hughes also said the 110 new employees coming from For-mica's Indianapolis facility would staff a distribution division that once had been located in Cincinnati. The new workers will join some 700 now employed at Evendale.
Formica said the company's 60-employee samples operation will remain in Indianapolis.
Besides the Evendale facilities, Formica also produces its brand-name, high-pressure laminates in Sacramento, Calif.
Formica became a division of Australian-based BTR Nylex in December 1994 in a $617.5 million deal.
BTR Nylex, in turn, became a wholly owned subsidiary of London-based BTR plc in July 1995. BTR Nylex also owns Continental PET Technologies Inc. of Florence, Ky., and Westlake Styrene Corp. of Houston.
Worldwide, BTR also owns the Brazilian auto parts maker OSA SA.
Formica will house the returning division in a 250,000 square-foot, newly renovated part of the company's existing 1 million-square-foot manufacturing facility. The renovated facilities will be operational Aug. 1, according to the company .
The employment news came in the wake of Formica's announcement of its hefty capital-investment plans for Evendale.
Both Hamilton County and the village of Evendale have approv-ed an exemption to the Formica plant eliminating 75 percent of taxes on machinery and equipment brought to the plant, as well as construction improvements over the next 10 years, according to Michelle Featherstone, an Evendale village clerk's office spokeswoman.