Report | Invista lays off another 300-plus

Another 335 employees at the Invista plant in Waynesboro are being laid off as part of a company plan to idle part of the local facility’s fibers plant in a move that would seem at first glance to be a sign of the times of the ongoing global economic downturn. But is it the global economic downturn, or just company restructuring?

“At Invista, we strive to create real, sustainable long-term value for our customers and society. We are deploying our state-of-the-art technology at the new plant and operating it at the highest levels of environmental, health and safety performance,” said Dan Stone, the president of Performance Surfaces & Materials at Invista, as part of an announcement from the company last month related to its opening of a $50 million facility in Shanghai, China, billed as the largest of its kind, that will produce airbags for use in automobiles.

This is on top of an announcement in September that Invista is building a new state-of-the-art research facility in Shanghai that is expected to go online in May 2009. “The establishment of the Invista China Textile Research Center demonstrates our commitment to the China and Asia markets,’ said Dr. Eric Chang, Asia technology director of Invista Apparel. “Through developing the latest technologies in fiber and fabric applications, Invista’s new research center is expected to not only help accelerate the advancement of the textile industry but also seek to align with the Chinese government’s goals to nurture high-value and innovative technologies and industries.”

With all the Invista activity in China, one has to wonder if perhaps the Asian giant is somehow escaping the tentacles of the global downturn, which of course it is not. The activity, then, relative to Invista has to be a welcome shot in the arm for the Chinese economy, even as the company has been jettisoning workers across North America – cutting 575 positions from the 1,100-employee workforce that it began 2008 with in Waynesboro, cutting 400 of its 500 positions in Seaford, Del., effective early next year, laying off 60 at its Victora, Texas, plant through a contractor beginning in November, and shutting down PET resin plants in Greer, S.C., and Canada.

It’s hard to get a read on Invista given the close-lipped nature of its corporate parent, the Wichita, Kan.,-based Koch Industries. It does appear that the gloomy days are yet ahead given the trends.

 

– Story by Chris Graham


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