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Reports for Joplin MO on Various Plastics Companies
6 years, 1 month ago Posted in: Industry News 0

Joplin, Mo., plastics firms checking on employees in wake of killer tornado

By Bill Bregar and Rhoda Miel


Devastation from Joplin MO Tornado: AP Photo

JOPLIN, MO. — May 23,, 2011 — Officials of plastics companies in Joplin, Mo., were checking on the welfare of employees in the aftermath of the deadly tornado that tore through the city on May 22, killing at least 116 people.

CertainTeed Corp. runs a vinyl siding plant in Joplin. The company issued this statement: “Our thoughts and prayers are with the citizens of Joplin as they cope with this tragic storm. Our first priority is making sure our employees and their families are safe and accounted for and that they have the supplies and resources they need. Our vinyl siding plant made it through the storm without incident. However, that is really minor in focus right now compared to the safety and needs of our people.”

The company said all its employees are accounted for, with no injuries.

At Joplin-based Tamko Building Products Inc., which also escaped damage, officials were checking on all employees.

“We have heard that several employees have lost their homes,” said Ron Cook, director of communications at Tamko, which employs 800 in the Joplin area. “It is a very somber mood here in the office and in the city. But we’re a very resilient company, and a very resilient city, and I think we’ll come back from this stronger than before. I think we’ll fight through this adversity.”

Contacted on Monday, the day after the tornado hit, Cook said the corporate offices are located in central Joplin, not far from the tornado’s path, but were not damaged. Two Joplin plants also were not damaged.

“It went through the south part of Joplin and both of our Joplin facilities are on the north side of town,” Cook said.

He said Tamko was in full operation. Tamko’s wood-plastic composite decking plant is in Lamar, Mo, about 30 miles from Joplin and well away from the tornado zone.

This tornado season has been severe. Just a few weeks ago, Tamko Building Products announced a $250,000 donation to the West Alabama Red Cross to help the region recover from the major tornadoes of late April. Tamko’s asphalt shingle plant was damaged by a tornado on April 27. No employees were injured. Cook said the Tuscaloosa plant should resume production in a few days.

The tornado damage came within a half-mile of composite molder Able Manufacturing & Assembly LLC, but did not cause any damage at the facility.

“We’re OK, and as far as we know most of our employees are OK,” although there were some minor injuries, said Susan Adams, director of human resources, in a May 23 telephone interview.

The company has heard, though, that “many employees” lost their homes, she said.

Able has both fiberglass and resin transfer molding in addition to metal fabricating, making parts for the large truck and construction equipment industries. It was closed on Monday at the request of city officials who wanted to limit the use of water for fighting fires and other emergency services. Adams said the company can quickly ramp up production again.

At the same time, Able Manufacturing is accepting donations to help its own employees left homeless and encouraging donations through the Red Cross. The company has also been receiving steady support from both suppliers and customers throughout the day.

“We’ve had employees out all day today, volunteering and assisting wherever they can,” Adams said. “The cleanup is going to take a long, long time.

“You see the pictures and you still can’t understand what it’s like. [Damage] is everywhere, 360 degrees, everywhere you look. You really don’t understand it until you see it.”

Packaging manufacturer Bemis Co. Inc. of Neenah, Wis., has a plant on the north side of Joplin that employs 126. Company spokeswoman Kristine Pavletich said in a May 23 telephone interview that the facility was spared the storm’s wrath.

“We’re extremely grateful that none of our employees were hurt, and we’re operating [at the plant]. But it’s definitely a devastating tragedy and we are working with our employees and the community to offer relief and support in whatever way we can,” she said.

Some Bemis employees’ homes were damaged by the tornado, although it was unclear to what extent, Pavletich said.

Plastics News staff reporter Dan Hockensmith also contributed to this report

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