By Christine Graf
Momentive Performance Materials in Waterford announced plans to invest $15 million in specialized electronics materials production at its Waterford plant.
The company is investing $40 million overall as part of its global transition from commodity basics chemicals to specialty silicones.
Momentive officials also said they are moving forward with recently announced plans to sell its consumer sealants business to Henkel, a chemical and consumer good company headquartered in Germany. Although the sale will include GE-branded consumer sealants, GE-branded construction sealants are excluded.
Financial terms of the sale were not disclosed, and Momentive will continue to manufacture consumer sealants in Waterford through 2021, the company said.
The company has been in business since 1947 and has 36 offices in 17 countries. Its products are used in many industries including healthcare, telecommunications, electronics, personal care, construction, transportation, agriculture, and energy.
“The $15 million investment we are making is really going to augment our capabilities and our capacities in one of our most exciting, fastest growing business—electronic materials,” said Sandip Tyagi, president and general manager of formulated specialties. “This is really in line with our overall strategy of continuing to transform our company into a more specialty chemical business.”
The specialty chemical business targets several end markets that Tyagi described as “extremely exciting and fast growing.” They include telecommunications infrastructure, and e-mobility. The e-mobility market encompasses fully electric, plug-in hybrid, and hydrogen fueled vehicles as well as other electric powered technologies.
Momentive’s products are also used in the aerospace industry and could help make space tourism possible in the not-so-distant future, according to the company.
“These are areas where we are key material suppliers and these are areas that are at their early stage of development and have long opportunities for growth,” said Tyagi.
The transition from basics chemicals production to specialty silicones will begin in 2021 and will be phased in over two-years, he said.
Momentive anticipates that the company’s workforce will drop from 1,000 to 700 by the end of the transition. All decisions related to workforce reduction will be negotiated with IUE-CWA Local 81359, the union that represents the plant’s approximately 700 hourly workers.
Although a workforce reduction is likely, Tyagi said the company’s transition to specialty silicones is necessary in order for operations to remain sustainable.
“The technologies and the markets that we are investing in are markets for the future. They create opportunities for us, for our operations here, on a much more sustainable basis. This will create a lot of longevity in terms of opportunity,” he said. “This will lead to exciting roles for our people because they will be a part of enabling some of these new technologies.”
According to Tyagi, Momentive remained committed to the Capital Region.
“We’ve been here for a long time, and we expect to be here for years to come. This is an exciting time in our journey as a company. We are really enhancing our footprint as well as our investment in our specialty transition and transformation. This has led to great excitement as well as pride to our employees.”
By Christine Graf