w/rogowski mug…. Performance Fibers CEO: Rowan plant positioned well for the future

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, December 2, 2009

By Paris Goodnight
Salisbury Post
The chief executive officer of Performance Fibers says Rowan County’s former Invista plant is well positioned for its part in the global fiber market.
To back that up, Greg Rogowski said Tony Branecky, longtime site director of the Salisbury plant, has been put in charge of all Performance Fibers’ North American operations after the acquisition announced in December closed this week.
Branecky, who will continue to be based in Salisbury, will be in charge of four plants: Rowan County’s fiber operation, which sends material to a tire plant in South Carolina; a Shelby operation that handles sewing thread; and a Mexico facility that Rogowski says is the “gateway to South America.”
Rogowski, based at the company headquarters in Richmond, Va., said Wednesday it’s really too early to tell how the purchase will sway employment numbers. The latest figures compiled by the Rowan County Chamber of Commerce show 750 worked at the plant in 2007, including 190 contract workers. That’s down from more than 1,200 in 2004.
And how will the slowing economy affect the local operation?
“That’s a great question. With the slowing economy in the U.S., we’re already seeing a slowdown in some business,” Rogowski said.
But he noted that even as the economy has cooled in North America, other markets ó such as China ó have continued to boom.
He noted the local polymer manufacturing operation is unique to Performance Fibers, and he said the investment that Koch Industries and Invista put into the plant set the stage for good things to come. “There’s a lot of flexibility, with new products and market segments,” he said. “We’re not immune, but we’re more flexible to handle a slowdown.”
Rogowski said Performance Fibers, like the Salisbury plant, has seen change in its ownership structure over the years. It originally produced industrial nylon in the 1960s and was under the Allied Signal/Honeywell name before being broken out as a separate entity in 2004. Rogowski has been with the company 22 years and CEO four years. He said his management team has much the same history.
“We’re the largest global producer in the world,” he said. “We’re the last one standing in North America, which leaves us much better positioned to address customers’ needs.”
Terms of the purchase were not disclosed.
Performance Fibers is owned by Performance Fibers Holdings Inc., an affiliate of Sun Capital Partners Inc.
Sun Capital Partners is a private investment firm focused on leveraged buyouts, equity, debt and other investments. Sun Capital affiliates have invested in and managed more than 170 companies worldwide with combined sales in excess of $35 billion since Sun Capital’s inception in 1995.
Performance Fibers now has 12 plants in North America, Asia and Europe; an estimated $1 billion in sales; and approximately 4,000 employees.