Invista cuts ties with Becon workers
Publication Salisbury Post
Date June 04, 2005
Section(s) Area
Page A1
Byline
Brief By Mark Wineka

Salisbury Post

Becon Construction Co., which handled on-site maintenance and construction needs at Invista for 13 years, is out at the large Salisbury plant, effective Monday.

Some local jobs are expected to be lost in the transition, thoug

By Mark Wineka

Salisbury Post

Becon Construction Co., which handled on-site maintenance and construction needs at Invista for 13 years, is out at the large Salisbury plant, effective Monday.

Some local jobs are expected to be lost in the transition, though The Mundy Companies, the new maintenance services contractor, will hire many of the people who worked for Becon.

Erica Luongo, public affairs manager for Invista in Charlotte, said Becon was among the bidders for a new contract but after "a thorough review " Invista went with Mundy, based in Houston.

Mundy also has taken over maintenance and construction duties from Becon at Invista plants in Shelby and Spartanburg, S.C.

Ben Ramsey, corporate counsel for Mundy, said Becon had 100 to 110 employees among all three Invista sites. Of those, 27 probably will not be rehired. Ramsey said usually 90 percent of the employees at new locations for Mundy come from the former maintenance contractor.

The other 10 percent represent supervisors that Mundy already employs.

Dan Peninger, manager at the Rowan County JobLink Career Center, said he expects about 20 former Becon employees to file for unemployment insurance, based on information one of his consultants has received.

Ramsey said some cutbacks were anticipated because Invista probably was looking for some cost savings.

"The customer is looking to us to do what I will call leveraging," Ramsey said. In Mundy's case, that means it might be able to move people from one site to another as the job requires.

"I think that's what we've been asked to do," Ramsey said. He added that Mundy probably had a more competitive bid than Becon.

"The low bid counts for a lot," he said.

Luongo said Invista went with Mundy in an effort to be "more competitive long-term" and for cost and efficiency reasons.

Mundy is located in 14 states, and the company claims it has become the country's leading industrial services provider.

"We're no stranger to your part of the world," Ramsey said.

A company Web site says The Mundy Companies promise a reduction in labor costs for customers of 15 percent.

Gokey, the Becon construction manager, said Becon was thankful for its relationship with Hoechst Celanese, Trevira, KoSa and most recently Invista over the 13 years.

"We've been there a long time and had an excellent relationship with Invista," Gokey said. "Still have. Quite frankly, I don't know all the reasons behind the switch in service providers. I was not part of that decision-making process at all."

In 1992, Becon took over for Fluor Daniel as Hoechst Celanese's construction services contractor.

Luongo said because Invista is part of a privately held company, it did not disclose information regarding the length of contracts.

Mundy already was the contractor at Invista operations in Kinston and Wilmington, in addition to seven other N.C. plants. It also is the contractor at five other spots in South Carolina.

Invista produces polyester at the Salisbury plant. It changed its name from KoSa to Invista in May 2004 when DuPont sold a subsidiary, DuPont Textiles & amp; Interiors, to Koch Industries Inc. Koch then combined DuPont Textiles with some of its subsidiaries, including KoSa, to create Invista.

As of January, Invista in Salisbury was Rowan County's sixth largest employer with 1,200 employees.

Becon Construction was Rowan County's 23rd largest employer in 1998 when the company had 245 employees here, including engineers, carpenters, plumbers, welders, cement finishers and janitors.

Becon performed new construction, modifications and upgrades to plant equipment and facilities and supported maintenance at the large Salisbury plant. Support services also had included warehousing, industrial cleaning and housekeeping.

A Becon Construction Web site noted that construction personnel generally work many years at the Salisbury site, with the average length of employment over four years. A number of craftsmen and supervisors with Becon had more than 20 years at this one location.

Becon has headquarters in Houston and corporate offices in Charlotte. It is owned by Bechtel, a leading engineering and construction company, and provides merit-shop construction and plant maintenance services to Bechtel and its clients.

Contact Mark Wineka at 704-797-4263, or mwineka@salisburypost.com.