DuraFiber could close Salisbury and Shelby plants in September

DuraFiber could close Salisbury and Shelby plants in September
Shelby location (Source: DuraFiber Technologies)
Shelby location (Source: DuraFiber Technologies)

SALISBURY, NC (WBTV) - Workers at DuraFiber Technologies on Highway 70 west of Salisbury, as well as plants in Shelby, and Winnsboro, SC., have been told that the plant will be closing in September, unless a buyer is found.

WBTV checked with the North Carolina Department of Commerce and discovered that notice had been given by company officials that the plant was closing.

The plant has been in Rowan County for years under several different names, including Fiber Industries and Hoechst Celanese.

The plant currently has 373 workers, according to the Department of Commerce.

"While today's announcement is a difficult one to make, increased labor, energy, transportation and raw material costs, in addition to continued market pressures, have strained DuraFiber's finances to a point that is no longer sustainable. Our team will work diligently to ensure a smooth transition for our employees, customers, and suppliers during the next 60 days, even as we continue to pursue strategic alternatives to keep these plants open," DuraFiber's CEO Frank Papa said in the news release Thursday.

Jeannine Allen Harp has lived near the Shelby plant for nearly five decades. She says the rows of empty parking spaces reveal how the business is a shadow of what it once was.

"I think about other people, and what are they going to do?" she asks.

Grover is the nearest town to the challenged manufacturing operation. That's where Caleb Howell opened a tattoo studio in what appears to be a struggling downtown.

"This plant has been in this community for a long, long time." he said. "I hate to see any industry shut down. Almost every storefront on Main street here in Grover is rented out."

Near the plant, hearts are broken.

"It's very disappointing to see that and the future of what's gonna happen," Harp said. "Before too long, will that be an empty building totally?"

According to the company web site, the Salisbury plant produces HMLS tire yarn, HDI yarn, polymer chip (external use), and multiplex. The plant was acquired from INVISTA in 2008 and was commissioned in the late 1960s. Salisbury received the ISO 9001 certification in 1993. Salisbury has earned a North Carolina STAR (OSHA Voluntary Protection Program) award.

Copyright 2017 WBTV.  All rights reserved.