FiberVisions, the global leader in developing, manufacturing, and marketing specialized bicomponent and performance polyolefin fibers for hygiene, filtration, automotive, geotextiles, textiles, and apparel, will celebrate the 50th anniversary of its plant in Covington, Oct. 6 – 7.
The Covington facility began life as part of the Hercules Powder Company, an entity acquired by DuPont in the 1880s, and spun off again in 1912.
Originally a manufacturer of cotton nitrocellulose for industrial end uses such as explosives, Hercules transitioned into the manufacture of polypropylene and polyester fibers in the 1960s. Herculon® branded fiber graced mid-century furniture and carpets, and at one point commanded 11% of the market for upholstery fabric.
Hercules began construction of its Covington Herculon® fibers plant near the heart of Georgia’s carpet manufacturing region in 1966; and the plant opened in 1967 with the goal of producing 25m pounds of polypropylene fiber annually.
During the 1970s and 1980s, Hercules turned its focus to the development of fibers for the fast-growing non-wovens market. As the carpet and upholstery businesses changed, Hercules fibers found their way into baby diapers, feminine care products, geotextiles, tea bags, filters, and wipes.
In 1997 Hercules Fibers division formed a joint venture with the Danaklon Group of Danish company Jacob Holm & Sons. Known as FiberVisions, the JV specialized in monocomponent and bicomponent fibers used in hygiene and industrial applications. FiberVisions then became a wholly-owned subsidiary of Hercules in 1998.
In 2000, a joint venture with Japan’s Chisso Corporation (now named JNC) created ES FiberVisions, the world’s leading supplier of polyolefin bicomponent fibers with production facilities in China, Denmark, Japan, Thailand, and the United States.
With research laboratories in Denmark, Japan, and the Covington facility, FiberVisions has pioneered a long list of polyolefin and bicomponent fiber innovations. ES FiberVisions’s bicomponent fiber process creates nonwoven fabrics that are softer and bulkier than those produced using other technologies.
In 2006 the company launched CoolVisions®, a disperse-dyeable polypropylene staple for apparel and home furnishings end uses.
Private equity firm Snow Phipps Group acquired a controlling interest in FiberVisions in 2006, and in 2012 sold the company to Indorama Ventures Limited (IVL), the largest manufacturer of polyester polymer in the world.
Today the 738,000-sq. ft. Covington plant has a capacity of 180 million pounds per year of staple fiber, and employs 230 people. Despite its global footprint, FiberVisions’ Covington plant maintains a close-knit, small-town atmosphere, employing multiple generations of local families over its 50-year history.
Covington site manager Scott Powell notes, “I have been with FiberVisions for over twenty years and have always been impressed by the people I have worked with at all levels of the organization; we are all committed to delighting our customers. All team members know they play a key role in our overall success and we work hard to ensure that everyone has the opportunity to contribute their ideas as well as their specific skills.”
“The manufacture of synthetic fibers has a long and proud history in the United States, particularly in the southeast,” comments FiberVisions CEO Tom Zaiser. “Companies such as FiberVisions and our Covington plant continue to thrive in today’s global marketplace through innovative technology, cutting-edge manufacturing facilities, superior customer service, and a dedicated team of employees.”
FiberVisions is owned by Indorama Ventures Public Company Limited (IVL), a global producer of PET and PTA, based in Thailand. With 70 operating sites in 24 countries, IVL’s vision is to be a world-class chemical company making great products for society. Guided by a continued focus on building strong and lasting relationships with all its stakeholders, and on providing the best quality products and services, IVL’s success is the direct result of a committed workforce of more than 14,500, and clear company goals set by experienced management.