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DuPont official says Wood County plant here to stay

Parkersburg News and Sentinel photo by Jeffrey Saulton Jay Valvo, plant manger at DuPont Washington Works, said the company is investing $40-$50 million in the facility to improve productivity and efficiency.
Parkersburg News and Sentinel photo by Jeffrey Saulton
Jay Valvo, plant manger at DuPont Washington Works, said the company is investing $40-$50 million in the facility to improve productivity and efficiency.

WASHINGTON, W.Va. — Although DuPont may be a company with a 200-year history, the new plant manager of the Washington Works plant says this is an exciting time to be part of the company.

Jay Valvo is plant manger at DuPont Washington Works, where the company’s performance polymers are produced.

“We are linked to the DuPont three core strategies going forward,” he said. “We are having a very good year on record earnings pace. Being in the new generation era of DuPont, our performance polymer business is growing.”

Despite the spin-off of Chemours, Valvo said DuPont still has a significant presence at the Washington Works site.

“DuPont has been here for 67 years and we plan to be here for decades to come,” he said. “We are committed to our community, we are committed to our site, we are committed to our business and our people on this site for a long time to come.”

Valvo said DuPont has 700 employees at the Washington Works and 200-300 contractors are working on site.

Valvo has been with DuPont for 27 years. He worked at the Washington Works site for 16 years, and has had several global and leadership assignments over the past 10 years. He came back to the plant as manager on Feb. 1.

“I’m thrilled to be back,” he said. “I’m thrilled to be back for several reasons; I met my wife here and my children were born here. We definitely have ties to the community and this area.

“My family is excited to be coming back, they are coming back home, that’s a wonderful thing to have.”

Valvo said this is a new era for DuPont.

“As of July 1 we separated from Chemours,” he said. “The new DuPont is focused on three key overall strategies or products. One is crop protection or agriculture, two is advance materials and three is industrial bio sciences.”

Valvo said the heart of the advance materials is performance polymers that go into critical markets such as automotive and electronics and the oil and gas industry. He said the products coming from the Washington Works are higher end applications.

“There are more engineered plastics versus the low end of plastics,” he said. “One example of what we make here is high-temperature nylon.

“It is used in electronics such as the cell phone industry and the laptop industry. As things get smaller and smaller and lighter they have to withstand higher and higher temperatures.”

Valvo said hundreds of products are made at the local site. The best known products are Dupont Zytel and DuPont Delrin, the two largest product families that tie into oil and gas, automotive and electronics. He added Delrin is also used in medical delivery products because it is resistant to chemicals.

“We’re also linked to industrial bio sciences, those are renewable products,” he said. “We make some renewable products here, we grow those businesses and some of the products are coming here to help support environment and renewable product lines across the world.”

Valvo said the company is investing it its future this year.

“We are investing more than $20 million of capital improvement projects this year and we are planning for next year for an estimated $20 million coming to this site for future growth, quality and capacity improvements.”

Overall, Valvo said the company is investing between $40-$50 million in Washington Works. Some of the investment has been seen in improvements in cutting equipment and screening equipment that will be installed in the coming week, he said.

“It makes me feel proud about that because it protects our future,” he said. “We are not leaving; we are here to stay and we plan on staying. Being in the new DuPont provides us with additional capital money and research money to grow our business.”

Another investment area is in the workforce, Valvo said. Through education and training, the company can grow its workforce to be more effective and efficient which will ensure future success.

“We have a very good workforce, we have a mixture of an enormous amount of experience of our people,” he said. “More than 200 of those people have more than 20 years of experience, making them long term DuPont personnel.”

Valvo said Washington Works is the largest performance polymers site in the world. The site supports North American industries and also export to Asian industries, he said, adding that supporting growth elsewhere around the world helps the plant and contributes to its long-term stability.

“Our new era gives us the ability to focus on our business and our people to grow,” he said. “With the capital investment and the research money our business supports in this site we are getting 40 percent more in research to support the long term stability of the site, community and people.”

As the largest performance polymers plant in DuPont, Valvo said many products will come to Washington Works as they develop new products and renewables. He said one thing will be products used to lower the weight of cars and trucks. He added the products are seen in automobiles made across the world.

“There are a couple of key trends our business supports,” he said. “One is the light weighting of automotive and the second is oil and gas industry where many of our products go into underwater piping; many of our products go into that piping for it to withstand the temperatures and pressures in the underwater oil industry.”

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