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Invista site manager recalls how well Victoria plant responded to explosion in Germany

By ALLISON MILES
April 17, 2013 at 7:02 p.m.
Updated April 17, 2013 at 11:18 p.m.

Paul Hughes

The winner is ...

Representatives with the Victoria Chamber of Commerce presented several awards during Wednesday's luncheon. Those include:

• Ambassador of the quarter: Jean Hahn, with Crossroads Home Health

• Small-business partner of the month: Crossroads Home Health

• Corporate partner of the month: Performance Food Group

Did you know ... ?

Victoria's Invista site plays home to two Native American archaeological sites, Site Manager Paul Hughes said. One of those is considered the oldest in the nation.

Today's medical and automotive worlds might be very different places were it not for Victoria's Invista site, a company official said.

Victoria's plant is one of two worldwide which produce C12, an intermediate used to manufacture heart valves, medical tubing, automotive fuel supply tubes and more.

When an explosion shuttered the other plant - located in Germany - for most of last year, Victoria stepped up its game.

"Without anyone in the world making that product, those products go away," Site Manager Paul Hughes said. "So the plant in Victoria over the last year - really, on a global basis - had a very significant impact on the world and ran very reliably at a time the world needed it to."

Hughes presented an Invista overview Wednesday at the Victoria Chamber of Commerce's monthly luncheon.

Victoria's Invista employs about 700 people, he said, and another 400 or so contractors work on-site daily.

The plant produces nylon intermediates, used in things such as Stainmaster carpet, parachutes and vehicle airbags.

Hughes said the site remains competitive on a global scale, noting the area's natural gas boom helps. Not only does the plant use the gas as an energy source but also as a raw material in creating various products.

The plant's location in regard to rail service, roadways and the Port of Victoria is also key to that competitive edge.

Hughes said Victoria's Invista, with some products, can load the items into railcars, send them to Houston, place them on a ship to China and then drive them to the middle of the country, all for less money than what China can offer.

Randy Vivian, president and CEO of the Victoria chamber, dubbed Wednesday's event a success.

"Any time there are lots of questions following a presentation, you know people were interested in the topic," he said of the luncheon, which drew 120 attendees. "And we had a lot of good questions."

Scott Lewis, with MMR Construction, agreed. He said the talk was interesting.

His company has worked in the plant's C12 facility, he said, but he never knew exactly what it was. Also, he said, it's good to know the plant strives to give back to the community.

Hughes, during his presentation, discussed partnerships with area schools and work with organizations such as Habitat for Humanity and the Boys and Girls Club. Schoolchildren visit the Invista Wetlands almost daily, Hughes added.

"I think it's interesting to see those philanthropic efforts," Lewis said.

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