Seaman Corporation Announces $7 Million Capital Investment Plan at Tennessee Plant

Posted by Kim Seaman on May 22, 2008

BRISTOL, Tennessee – Seaman Corporation has announced a three-year plan to invest $7 million at its manufacturing plant here.

“The primary purpose of making this investment is to further increase our capability and to improve the productivity of our current associates so that we can remain globally competitive,” said Richard Seaman, President and Chief Executive Officer of Seaman Corporation.

Some $4 million will be used to design, build and install a state-of-the-art coating line for primer application, while the balance will be required for mixing equipment and weaving and knitting machinery.

The investment, he said, will allow the company to maintain its current level of associates at Bristol, specifically allowing the company to retain 25 to 30 of them. Instead of losing jobs, Seaman said, the company anticipates the need for 15 to 20 additional associates over the next three years.

The company operates plants in both Bristol and Wooster, Ohio, producing high performance specialty fabrics using proprietary weaving and coating formulas. Various Seaman fabrics are used for roofing membranes, truck tarps, architectural structures, landfill liners, inflatable recreational and boating products and military products such as shelters and fuel containers.

Seaman noted that the current announcement continues the company’s aggressive commitment to invest in necessary manufacturing technology.

“Between 2001 and 2004, Seaman Corporation invested more than $15 million in designing, acquiring and installing state-of-the-art hot melt coating equipment in its Ohio and Tennessee manufacturing facilities,” he said.

That investment was necessary to increase production capacity and provide the ability to produce fabric in wider widths preferred by customers. They include those who buy FiberTite® roofing membranes, XR-5® geomembrane fabrics for environmental applications and urethane coated fabrics used by the military.

However, the wider width of fabric produced on the hot melt coating equipment was still limited by the capabilities of existing primer coating equipment. The new investment in primer coating equipment will enable the company to produce even wider widths and continue to be competitive worldwide, said Seaman.

“The investment in this new coating technology will not only allow us to fully utilize the capability of previous equipment investments, but it will also give us some unique capability to do future research and development work for the industrial fabric market,” he said.

“I am pleased that the community of Bristol and the State of Tennessee recognize the risks that are being undertaken by Seaman Corporation. They have provided significant economic development incentives which make it attractive for us to make this investment in Bristol.”

The majority of the new equipment will come from Europe, and the weakened value of the U.S. dollar has raised the financial stakes. “The $4 million investment we are making in this coating line would have only cost $2.5 million just five years ago, representing a significantly higher investment today,” said Seaman.

He added, however, that the need to invest in new technology was made very clear when he and Jim Dye, the company’s Chief Operating Officer, toured a Chinese coating company last September.

The state-owned coating facility had equipment very similar to what was installed at Seaman plants between 2001 and 2004. Exceptionally low labor and other operating costs, however, would allow the Chinese company to price its products well below those of Seaman Corporation or any other U.S. manufacturer.

“So how is an American company to compete with this type of global competition?” Seaman asked. “In my opinion, only by continuing to invest in the future.”

In addition to the city and state, Seaman also acknowledged support from the Bristol, Tennessee, Electric System, the Tennessee Valley Authority and Sullivan County.

“Seaman Corporation is an excellent corporate citizen,” said Jeff Broughton, Bristol’s City Manager, “and this high technology expansion represents the long term investment this company has made to this community and supports continued growth in Bristol.”

David Shumaker, Mayor of Bristol, added: “This is a great day for Bristol. We are proud to have a company like Seaman Corporation here and it is exciting to see them continue to grow.”

Also commenting was Mike Browder, Chief Executive Officer of Bristol Tennessee Essential Services. “Richard Seaman and the Seaman family, as well as Raj Venkataraman (Seaman Corporation’s Bristol Director of Manufacturing/Vice President of Operations) have continued to make personal commitments to the people of Bristol,” he said.

“The new and innovative technology Seaman Corporation brings to our community will continue to bring growth and stability which is important to BTES and our customers.”

Expressing support on behalf of the Tennessee Valley Authority, Ken Breeden, Executive Vice President of Customer Resources, said: “TVA is pleased to partner with Bristol Tennessee Essential Services, the city of Bristol, the state of Tennessee and other area leaders to support Seaman Corporation’s expansion in this community.”

For information, contact Seaman Corporation at
330-262-1111 or toll-free 800-927-8578.
Seaman Corporation, 1000 Venture Blvd., Wooster, OH 44691.

Topics: Corporate News