NEW: DuPont Co. is closing its Philadelphia paint plant, idling around 265 at Marshall Laboratory on Grays Ferry Ave. in South Philadelphia by June, due to "the worldwide recession which has taken a huge toll on our customers in the automotive industries," said manager Robert Roop. Some workers will be offered jobs at other DuPont locations.
"Our primary function was product development and research and development for DuPont coatings, primarily automotive," Roop told me. Marshall also made batches of specialized products like waterborne finishes, which can be applied without the usual industrial solvents. "Some of the work will be stopped, some will be absorbed to other DuPont locations." DuPont ran the plant since buying Harrison Bros.' lead-based paint factory in 1917.
The 25-acre Marshall site lies in a bend of the Schuylkill off the Grays Ferry exit of I-76, south of the University of Pennsylvania. DuPont hasn't announced plans for the property. "We'll do the studies and meet all our obligations around environmental remediation," Roop said. "Our number-one priority is for the health and wellbeing of our employees," some of whom were "the second and third generations in their family" to work there.
DuPont employs around 10,000 workers and contractors in Wilmington, its suburbs, and at Carneys Point and other sites in South Jersey. Marshall was DuPont's only plant in Southeastern Pennsylvania.
EARLIER: DuPont Co., Wilmington, will eliminate another 2,000 jobs and "rationalize" plants serving the "declining" motor vehicle, construction and industrial markets, and will "continue aggressive actions to reduce costs and capital expenditures" in those markets. Plants "all over the world" will be affected, says spokesman Anthony Farina.
Workers will be told the bad news starting today. "These are permanent changes," for example, as Asian and European plants build lighter, electric cars, replacing heavy U.S. and West European internal-combustion vehicles, Farina said.
Despite the cuts DuPont chief executive Ellen Kullman said in a statement that the company will keep pumping money into "high-growth, high-margin businesses like seed products and voltaics." Especially in markets like China, which DuPont says is growing as the U.S. and Western Europe slow. For example, DuPont opened this new solar electric research center in Shanghai three days ago. "You can't make a photovoltaic panel without our materials," Farina said.