KINGSPORT - The head of Eastman Chemical Co.'s Tennessee and Texas manufacturing operations has announced his retirement.
Jerry R. Repass, vice president and general manager of Worldwide Manufacturing Support, will leave the company April 1 after 42 years on the job.
He'll be succeeded by J. Parker Smith, currently superintendent of Centralized Maintenance and Services at Eastman's Tennessee Operations.
Repass began his career with Eastman in 1965 as a chemical engineer. Through the years, he served in almost all areas of manufacturing as department and division superintendent, to vice president of Tennessee Eastman Division. In 1998, he was named vice president of Eastman Chemical Latin America Inc., and later vice president of Worldwide Operations Support for Eastman Chemical Co.
In 1999, Repass was named vice president and general manager of Tennessee Operations, and in 2006 he was named vice president and general manager of Worldwide Manufacturing Support. He is responsible for Eastman's Tennessee and Texas operations.
"Jerry's longevity with Eastman is a testament to the culture and work ethic of our company's employees," said Jim Rogers, president and Chemical and Fibers Business Group head. "Jerry's unique ability to bring together several diverse groups and lead them in working together seamlessly has become a valuable part of the legacy of our corporate history."
Repass, 63, received a bachelor's degree in chemical engineering in 1965 and a master's degree in engineering administration in 1972 from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville. He has served on the United Way of Greater Kingsport cabinet and the Board of Advisors for the College of Engineering for the University of Tennessee. He currently serves as a commissioner for Tri-Cities Regional Airport.
"In the four decades that I have worked at Eastman, I've seen a lot of changes," said Repass. "Technology has changed, and of course Eastman changed by becoming an independent chemical company. But one thing that hasn't changed is the quality of people, and that is what has kept me here and made my job enjoyable for so many years."
Smith, 53, joined Eastman in 1974 as an engineer's assistant at Tennessee Eastman Corp. In 1976, he began working as a mechanical engineer assigned to various locations at the Kingsport site. In 1990, he became superintendent of the Utilities Maintenance Department, until 1994 when he was transferred to Eastman's South Carolina Operations, where he was superintendent of Operations Services. In 1999, he returned to Kingsport as superintendent of the Central Maintenance and Services Division.
In his new role, Smith will be responsible for Eastman's Tennessee and Texas Operations.
A Kingsport native, Smith received a bachelor's degree in mechanical engineering from North Carolina State University.
Headquartered in Kingsport, Eastman manufactures and markets chemicals, fibers and plastics worldwide. The company employs 11,000 people and posted $7.5 billion in sales in 2006.