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Seaman Corp. invests $7 million in Bristol plant

Staff Report • Dec 11, 2008 at 12:00 AM

BRISTOL, Tenn. — Local, state and federal authorities Thursday helped Seaman Corp. celebrate a $7 million investment at its Bristol operation.

Seaman last year announced a three-year plan to invest the money in its manufacturing plant in the Bristol Tennessee Industrial Park.

“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,” Richard Seaman, president and CEO of Seaman Corp., said in a news release.

Seaman, Tennessee Commissioner of Economic and Community Development Matt Kisber, U.S. Rep. David Davis, and Bristol Mayor Joel Staten attended the ribbon cutting.

As announced in 2007, 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, Seaman said, will allow the company to maintain 25 to 30 existing employees. The company also projects the need for 15 to 20 additional employees over the three years.

Richard Venable, CEO of the NETWORKS – Sullivan Partnership, and Jack Lawson, director of economic development for NETWORKS, said a Tennessee training incentive program helped bring the 15 to 20 new jobs.

Lawson said the changes allow coating fibers up to 102 inches wide, compared to the older system, which was limited to 54-inch widths.

He said the state normally requires more jobs to provide the training incentive but waived that because the jobs were higher paying.

In addition, Lawson said the Tennessee Valley Authority gave Seaman Corp. a low-interest loan for part of the project.

The company operates plants in Bristol and Wooster, Ohio, and Venable said Bristol and Wooster were in the running for the new equipment.

The company, headed locally by Raj Venkataraman, director of manufacturing and vice president of operations, produces high performance specialty fabrics using proprietary weaving and coating formulas.

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.

“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,” Seaman said.

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

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, Seaman said, particularly with facilities in China.

In addition to the city, state, Sullivan County and TVA, Seaman has acknowledged support from Bristol Tennessee Essential Services, which distributes TVA power.

For more information, visit www.seamancorp.com.

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