OxyChem shutting its Pa. PVC facility
DALLAS - Occidental Chemical Corp. is closing its dispersion PVC plant in Pottstown, Pa., in a move that will eliminate 220 jobs.
The 60-year-old plant was set to close Jan. 15, according to Jan Sieving, a spokeswoman for Dallas-based OxyChem. The business no longer is profitable, because of the plant's age and because of competition from foreign firms, Sieving said.
The facility makes specialty PVC resins for use in wall coverings, flooring and coatings. OxyChem has owned the site since 1980, when it was purchased from Firestone Tire & Rubber Co. Employees were informed of the move Jan. 4.
No decisions have been made regarding the plant's equipment or the property it sits on, Sieving said. The plant is not part of Oxy Vinyls LP, the PVC-making partnership between OxyChem and PolyOne Corp. of Avon Lake, Ohio.
Oxy's parent firm, Occidental Petroleum Corp. of Los Angeles, will take a $53 million pretax charge for the closing.
The shutdown further tightens North American supplies of flooring-grade dispersion PVC. A Formosa Plastics Corp. USA plant that makes that material in Illiopolis, Ill., has been out of commission since April after an explosion and fire resulted in five deaths. Industry contacts said the Illiopolis plant represented about half of all flooring-grade dispersion PVC made in North America.
VPI sells flooring unit to investment group
SHEBOYGAN, WIS. - VPI LLC has sold its last remaining unit, its Flooring Products Division, to an investment group that includes the unit's former general manager.
Sheboygan-based VPI has made vinyl- and rubber-based static-control flooring for more than 50 years. The unit was purchased by R. Steven Martin, Jeremy Williams and Robert Mac Pherson. Terms of the Jan. 3 deal were not disclosed.
Williams, who is serving as executive vice president and chief operating officer of the new company, had been general manager of the division since 2003. Martin and Mac Pherson previously held top positions at Ankeny, Iowa-based Tone Bros. Spice Co. That business recently was purchased by Associated British Foods plc.
Martin is taking the position of president and chief executive officer of the new firm, and Mac Pherson has become executive vice president and chief financial officer, according to a Jan. 3 news release.
The flooring unit will be renamed VPI Corp. and operate from Sheboygan. The company has 60 employees and makes specialty floor-tile and wall-base products that help dissipate static electricity.
VPI sold its other operations last fall. Spartech Corp., based in Clayton, Mo., purchased three VPI divisions that made sheet products, while Lebanon, Tenn.-based Coeur Inc. bought VPI's medical-products operation.
VPI owner R. Bruce Grover opted to retire, leading to the sale of the units. The sale spells the end of a company that recorded about $135 million in annual sales before the breakup.
Lear Corp. to boost production at facility
SOUTHFIELD, MICH. - Auto supplier Lear Corp. is preparing to buff up production at one of its injection molding operations, just months after laying off part of the workforce there.
Southfield-based Lear has new contracts to make instrument and door panels for unspecified major automakers at its Marshall, Mich., facility, said spokeswoman Andrea Puchalsky.
In the fall, the company cut 200 jobs there because other contracts were ending. It now employs 344 in Marshall. The new work will boost employment to 509, and the firm eventually expects to employ 590, she said.
Lear is asking local officials for more than $14 million worth of tax abatements for site improvements.