Dept. of Commerce and Florence County Secure Purchaser of Wellman’s Johnsonville Facility

October 23, 2008

Investor Group Intends to Retain Wellman’s Workforce and Create New Jobs 

COLUMBIA and FLORENCE, SC – October 23, 2008 – The South Carolina Department of Commerce and the Florence County Economic Development Partnership joined Wellman Inc. in announcing that the company has completed the sale of Wellman’s Engineering Resins business and other assets located on its Johnsonville campus to a new company backed by an investor group led by J.H. Whitney & Co. and management. The new company will be known as Wellman Plastics Recycling and will operate businesses under both the Wellman Plastics Recycling and Wellman Engineering Resins names. 

Last month, Wellman announced the Johnsonville plant would be closing, impacting 163 employees. Together the Department of Commerce and Florence County worked to secure a purchaser of the Johnsonville facility.   As part of the agreement, the Department of Commerce will provide a $500,000 Community Development Block Grant to Florence County for onsite improvements for the former Wellman facility in Johnsonville.  

Wellman Plastics Recycling plans to invest $3 million to retain the 163 employee workforce at Wellman’s Johnsonville plant and create an additional 100 new jobs.  

Mark Ruday, Wellman Inc.’s Chief Executive Officer, stated, “We are very pleased to have completed the sale of our Engineering Resins Division and the entire Johnsonville site. Today marks an important step forward for both the new organization in Johnsonville and Wellman Inc.’s remaining chemical based businesses. Most importantly, I am pleased to have reached a conclusion that not only is in the best interest of Wellman Inc.’s various stakeholders but also the employees in Johnsonville and the surrounding community.” 

Robert Fotsch, CEO of the newly formed Wellman Plastics Recycling, said, “We are very pleased to have been able to complete the purchase of Wellman’s Johnsonville facility today and we look forward to continuing the Wellman name and tradition as a leader in plastic recycling. This transaction would not have been possible without the commitment of our equity partners, the City of Johnsonville, Joe King (Florence County Economic Development Partnership), Daniel Young (S.C. Department of Commerce), Ken Ard (Florence County Council) and all our dedicated employees at the Johnsonville site.  I would like to take a moment and personally thank each of you for all the hard work you put into making this project a success.  With the commitment of our equity partners and sound financial structure, we plan to make the necessary investments to support the high quality team in Johnsonville and reestablish Johnsonville’s leadership in Engineering Resins so that it remains a critical partner with companies in the automotive and other industries.”  Robert Fotsch will maintain his position as CEO of New Horizons Plastics Recycling, a Greenville-based PET recycling business. 

“The purchase of this facility is an incredible compliment to the workforce in Florence County.  As well, this news demonstrates that efforts made to establish a business-friendly environment are working to continually attract investment and opportunity to our state,” said Gov. Mark Sanford.   

“The purchase of Wellman’s Johnsonville facility by one of the largest producers of recycled PET brings great opportunity to the current workforce at the Wellman site and the future economic growth of Florence County.  Today’s news is a positive reflection of the strength of South Carolina’s workforce and business climate.  Thanks to the team efforts of the state and local officials, this is investment preserves employment for 163 hardworking South Carolinians and brings new opportunity to the community,” said Joe Taylor, Secretary of Commerce.  

“On behalf of the state of South Carolina, I would like to thank J. H. Whitney & Co. for their commitment to Florence County,” said Senator Hugh K. Leatherman. “As state senator and a resident of Florence County, I am thrilled to see retention of current employees, new capital investment and an increase in jobs for the citizens of this fine county.” 

“The purchase of Wellman’s Johnsonville facility is a testament to Florence County’s pro-business climate.  Our skilled labor force is dedicated to excellence and continued growth in Florence,” stated Dr. Charles Gould, Chairman, Florence County Economic Development Partnership and President, Florence-Darlington Technical College.    

“Wellman has been a part of the fabric of our county for many decades.  The purchase of this facility is great news for the citizens of Florence County.  Once again, Florence County has proven its dedication to grow and prosper economically,” stated Florence County Council Chairman, K.G. “Rusty” Smith.   

“It is a great day for Johnsonville and the citizens of Florence County.  I am confident that J.H. Whitney & Co. will be pleased with their investment in Johnsonville,” said Florence County Councilman Ken Ard.

About the assets at Wellman’s Johnsonville facility 

The Engineering Resins business has the capacity to produce over 70 million pounds per year of engineered plastics, which is used in a wide variety of applications including automotive, lawn and garden, and electronics. Other assets include a 235 million pound polyester staple fiber plant and a 190 million pound PET bottle recycling operation. 

About J.H. Whitney & Co.

J.H. Whitney & Co., established in 1946, was one of the first U.S. firms to pioneer the development of the private equity industry.  Today, J.H. Whitney remains privately owned and its main activity is to provide private equity capital for small and middle market companies.  J.H. Whitney is currently investing its sixth private equity fund, J.H. Whitney VI, L.P., for major endowments, foundations, pension plans, and high net-worth families.  Investment activities are focused on small and middle market buyouts of market leading companies that are poised for growth in a number of industries including consumer products and retail, healthcare services, specialty manufacturing and business services. (

About Wellman Inc.

Wellman, Inc. manufactures and markets high-quality PermaClear® brand PET (polyethylene terephthalate) packaging resin.