2012 Sales: $6 billion
Key subsidiaries: Wacker Polymers (Dalton, Ga.), Wacker Polysilicon (Charleston, Tenn.)
Other subsidiaries: Siltronic, Wacker Silicones, Wacker Biosolutions,
New Dalton Address: 2124 S. Hamilton St.
Source: Wacker Chemical Corp.
DALTON, Ga. - The carpet industry is growing again, and the increased demand for the chemicals that supply the Carpet Capital's tufting mills has drawn new investment to Georgia.
Wacker Polymers, a subsidiary of Germany-based Wacker Chemie AG, on Tuesday unveiled its research and technical training facility here. The German chemical giant is hustling to supply enough binding products and technical expertise to satisfy local carpet manufacturers, and sees its new facility as a way to reach out to customers.
"If you're going to be in the carpet business in Dalton, you have to be in Dalton," said John McClurken, technical manager at Wacker's new facility.
While Wacker won't be manufacturing its binding agents in Dalton in the near term, the company will run its research, service and training operations there. Wacker Polymers did not disclose the size of its newest investment in the state of Georgia, though it is a tiny fraction of the $2 billion another division of Wacker is making to build a polysilicon production plant near Charleston, Tenn.
Wacker currently makes a number of chemicals for the carpet industry -- like the glue that secures tufted carpet fibers to carpet backing -- in Calvert City Ky., before shipping large amounts of its various products by rail to Dalton.
"When you think of these rail cars full of product, those mills go through them like that," McClurken said, snapping his fingers for emphasis. "When you get into business with the carpet mills, there's no such thing as a little bit of anything, but our plant did a good job of ramping up."
By locating its sophisticated research and testing equipment near to clients, Wacker can directly test its chemicals with various types of carpet and carpet backing, as well as perform more than 20 types of quality control inspections, said John Tacca, vice president of Wacker Polymers. The company spends about 2 percent of its budget on research and development, so it only makes sense to do the research with its customers nearby, he said.
"The goal here is to get a product that works for our customers, then produce it in Calvert City," Tacca said. "This is part of a broader commitment to our local customers, and accommodating the fact that we've grown in the area."
Wacker Polymers' also makes the chemicals that create Kleenex, baby wipes, paper towels, ceiling tiles and air filters.
The other part of the plan for the new facility is as a training lab for its customers, who can learn proper testing and application procedures through hands-on experience with Wacker's chemicals.
Though Dalton Mayor David Pennington joked that rolling out the welcome mat for a chemical company may be a little politically incorrect, he said he was glad for the new investment in Dalton. The Carpet Capital has lost jobs and populaton over the past six years due to the housing slump, and Pennington said the city is always looking for new manufacturers.
"We are a manufacturing hub, and we like attracting businesses such as this," he said. "Everything that Washington, D.C., doesn't like, we like."