Steve Marwitz

Steve Marwitz is the communications director at the Formosa site in Point Comfort.

Point Comfort Formosa site officials have hired most of the estimated 340 workers for the $5 billion expansion expected to be completed in the first quarter of 2019.

Plant communications director Steve Marwitz gave an overview of the company Wednesday at the Victoria Chamber of Commerce’s June luncheon at University of Houston-Victoria. The expansion will broaden the company’s plastic resins product line and increase overall productivity. The project will add low-density polyethylene resins to increase the product mix and improve customer end-use options.

This type of resin is different from high-density polyethylene, which the company already produces. Low-density polyethylene has less malleable strength but greater ductility than its cousin. Some examples of what it produces are toys, films and cable insulation.

The expansion is on the north part of Calhoun County expanding into Jackson County, Marwitz said.

Most of the staff hired to work in the expansion space are operators and going through the Formosa training and development center, Marwitz said.

Formosa officials opened the training and development center at the old Point Comfort elementary school in 2014 after experiencing a shortage of local skilled workers, he said. Since the center’s first class, 261 graduates have become plant operators.

“The beauty of this process training center – we pay them while they go to school,” he said.

About 200 are going through the center this year, Marwitz said. The center also provides a qualification welding program for Formosa employees and contract employees.

“We have exotic metals like aluminum, titanium, and we have to make sure those folks know what they’re doing, and the companies that come in have the right procedures and the right skills to (work) in our facility,” he said.

The Formosa Point Comfort site has more than 2,100 full-time employees, about 1,000 contract workers and about another 3,000 construction workers for the expansion.

“Our annual payroll is about $226 million,” Marwitz said.

From 1980 to 1983, the first plant was built at the Formosa site for $142 million bringing the operation online, Marwitz said. The first expansion started in 1989 and was finished in 1994 for $1.7 billion. It consisted of 10 different facilities.

“At one point when I started at Formosa, I would stand at the gate back here in this area and look across … and it was just cow pasture,” said Marwitz, who began his Formosa career 28 years ago.

From 1998 to 2002, another expansion was completed for $1.6 billion, which brought three more facilities.

Kathryn Cargo reports on business and agriculture for the Victoria Advocate. She may be reached at kcargo@vicad.com or 361-580-6328. Follow her on twitter @kathryncargo.

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Kathryn Cargo covers business and agriculture in the Crossroads. She enjoys reporting on industry trends and getting her shoes dirty out in the field.

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