Wellman To Centralize Its Operations In Hancock County

By Brad Kessie - bio | email

HANCOCK COUNTY, MS (WLOX) - South Mississippi's manufacturing got a bit of a boost on Thursday. Executives at Wellman Incorporated announced that they're shutting down plants in North Carolina and South Carolina, and centralizing their operations in Hancock County.

"While it is always difficult to restructure operations, we believe these actions will maximize value for our stakeholders and position Wellman for future growth," Chief Executive Mark Ruday says in a press release.

Wellman's restructuring means moving all of its resin producing operations to its Hancock County plant. An unknown number of workers will also be transferred to Wellman's Port Bienville facility.

Wellman resins are found in things like plastic bottles. So, the 20 ounce drink that quenches your thirst on a sunny south Mississippi day is likely made with P-E-T resins produced by the 158 men and women at Wellman's Port Bienville plant. It's a plant that's very significant to the Hancock County Port and Harbor Commission. Jack Zink is the Hancock County Port and Harbor Director.

"I would consider them one of our anchor industries," Zink said.

Back in February, Wellman was faced with a deteriorating business climate and substantial debt. So, company executives filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. The reorganization plan they've come up with eliminates more than 750 jobs in Darlington, North Carolina and Johnsonville, South Carolina. And it shuts down both of those plants.

Wellman's new plan is to centralize all of its operations at its Pearl River plant in Hancock County.

"What better plant than this one here," Zink wondered. "It's most efficient, best technology, again most modern plant."

Wellman executives have not announced how many employees from the Carolina plants will be transferred to the Port Bienville facility.

The comment from Wellman's chief executive came from a news release. The company is sending a media representative to the Port Bienville plant on Friday. That's when the company will make additional comments about its decision to centralize its manufacturing operations in Hancock County.