DuPont’s Yerkes plant in the Town of Tonawanda is adding 25 jobs as it bounces back from layoffs it made 2012.
The plant is in the process of bringing back 15 operators previously employed at the plant, who perform functions including monitoring production and inspecting finished product, said Warren C. Hoy, the plant manager.
The site is also adding 10 maintenance workers, Hoy said. “To the extent we can fill (those jobs) internally, we’ll do that. Otherwise, we will be going out to hire off the street.”
The Yerkes plant consists of two production lines: Corian and Tedlar. Corian, a solid-surface material, is used in countertops, but it is also finding wider use with customers such as hospitals, restaurants and office buildings.
“We’re definitely moving beyond just countertops,” Hoy said. “Those are things we’ve been working at for a while. I’d say the difference is, we’re getting traction in that now.”
The Yerkes plant has benefited from shifting some of the manufacturing of a product series called Corian Private Collection to the Tonawanda site from South Korea.
DuPont is seeing demand for Tedlar – a thin film used in applications such as solar panels and aircraft – “at least equal to last year’s demand,” Hoy said. “I think they’ll actually be more before this year plays out.” Increased demand in the solar cell market, primarily in Asia, is boosting business for Tedlar.
The layoffs in late 2012 were part of broader reductions by the Delaware-based company, which, at the time, cited softness in key global markets.
Including the hires being made now, the plant will have about 600 employees, including full-time and contract workers. Hoy said the plant is also contemplating its future workforce needs, as about half of the plant’s workers will be full-retirement eligible in the next five years. “It’s really important for us to start bringing those people in and start doing the knowledge transfer to these folks.”
In the meantime, Hoy said, the Tonawanda plant is getting positive feedback from DuPont higher-ups on its performance.
“They see the progress,” he said, “and – very quickly and very appropriately – are challenging us on the next thing we have to deliver on.”