Second chance for Haverhill?

Published 9:36 am Wednesday, September 23, 2015

HAVERHILL — A new owner may mean a second chance for a beleaguered local company with long ties to the area that laid off 75 percent of its workforce this summer.

Right now Altivia Petrochemicals, based in Houston, is in the process of acquiring Haverhill Chemicals from owners Goradia Capital, who took over in 2011. The 54-year-old petrochemical plant on the border of Lawrence and Scioto counties made a variety of chemicals from petroleum-based feedstock including phenol and bisphenol A or BPA.

“Once the company resumes ownership it could be up to 150 (employees) once the facility is up and running,” a spokeswoman for Altivia said on Tuesday.

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No target date for the plant takeover has been set.

“Right now they are focusing on closing the transaction, which is expected in October,” the spokeswoman said.

Rumors started in June that the plant would shut down in 60 days following layoffs of more than 60 members of the Tri-State Building Trades union.

Then in August the company sent out emails to the remaining employees that they were out of a job when the company wasn’t able to find a buyer.

However on Friday a Goradia spokesman sent out a release that Haverhill would sell its assets to Altivia, which produces water treatment chemicals.

“In order to implement the sale to Altivia, Haverhill announced that it was filing for relief under Chapter 11,” the release said. “The sale will be subject to the approval of the bankruptcy court.”

Local business leaders are touting the proposed sale as beneficial to the two counties.

“We feel very positive about it,” Dr. Bill Dingus, executive director of the Lawrence Economic Development Corporation, said. “It is our belief everything is going to be fully implemented, although there are still many details to be worked out. It is great to see employees going back to work. The company coming in, I see them as a long-term asset to our community.”

Acquiring Haverhill will expand Altivia’s product line. As far as the investment the company will have to make in the Haverhill plant, it is not likely to release that figure, the spokeswoman said.

Lawrence County Commission president Les Boggs said “I hope they keep all the current employees at full capacity and we would welcome any other job expansion that they could provide.”

Robert Slagel, president, CEO and owner of Portable Solutions Group, sees the trend for the need of petrochemicals on the upswing.

“I think it is a very good thing for us and the people who have worked there for years,” Slagel said. Petrochemical is a pretty booming business.”