Daramic closes local manufacturing facility, union responds

July 9, 2024 | 12:14 am

Updated July 9, 2024 | 12:39 am

Daramic has closed its manufacturing facility located just east of Owensboro’s city limits. Company officials told Owensboro Times the local plant was one of the company’s “less efficient production sites” and had a “lack of long-term profitability.” Representatives with the Local 726 International Brotherhood of Boilermakers said the news was a complete surprise. 

While the company referred to the facility as its Owensboro-based location, it’s technically located outside the city limits at 5525 KY 2830.

An official with the company said the Owensboro Daramic Technical Center (DTC) will remain operational. 

Beth Kitteringham is the director of communications for Daramic’s parent company, Polypore, which was acquired by Asahi Kasei in 2015. In an emailed statement on behalf of Daramic, she told Owensboro Times:

“Daramic has made the difficult decision to shut down manufacturing operations at the Daramic Owensboro facility. We will keep the Owensboro Daramic Technical Center (DTC) operational to support global business and our ongoing R&D projects. This was a very difficult decision because we know it affects our employees and their families, and we appreciate their service.”

The statement went on to say:

“The Owensboro site is one of our older, less efficient production sites, and the main decision to stop manufacturing was due to the Owensboro plant’s lack of long-term profitability. We have seven remaining large-scale manufacturing facilities positioned around the world, and we can balance production across our other facilities and meet customer demands where we operate globally.”

Local 726 president Dwayne Board said the company sent out an employee-wide text message on July 4, stating that the plant would close for the holiday. The following day, the company sent out another message advising employees not to return to work the following week and provided a number to call on Monday for a conference call, according to Board.

“During that call, they announced they were shutting down the Owensboro site,” Board said. “Our Boilermakers union has been at that plant for 63 years, and it’s crushing to learn this over the phone.”

Similar to the statement provided to OT, Board said company officials cited to employees the plant’s inability to be productive and dwindling profits as the primary basis for the closure. He added that the closure would impact the lives of more than 120 hourly employees along with those on salary. 

“Daramic has been a staple in this community for over 60 years and for us to receive a notice like this is crushing,” he said. 

On behalf of Local 726, international representative Justin Mundy expressed his discontent with how the company handled the entire situation.

“The main thing we would like to portray is not that they’re closing, rather how they did it,” Mundy said. “They said they were proud Americans and planned to keep manufacturing here, then, on the Fourth of July, they bring guards in and won’t allow us on the property. It’s just dirty how they did it.”

Mundy said they will enter a collective bargaining session with company executives on Tuesday to discuss the closure details. 

Daramic began as the Dewey & Almy Corporation, USA, in 1930 and was acquired by W.R. Grace & Co. in 1954. In the late ’60s, they invented the polyethylene separator in Owensboro, which quickly became the first location to manufacture the separators. 

According to its site, Daramic operates eight manufacturing facilities and seven sales offices globally. The plant located east of Owensboro served North, Central, and South America.

July 9, 2024 | 12:14 am

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