MONCKS CORNER — DAK Americas is closing part of its Berkeley County manufacturing operations in move that will cut more than 200 jobs at the Cooper River plant.
The polyester staple fibers business, which produces about 150,000 tons a year, and will close at the end of the year, according to a shutdown notice filed with the S.C. Department of Employment and Workforce. The decision was driven by cheap imports, the Charlotte-based company said.
The recently announced shutdown will affect about 200 full-time employees and 40 contract workers.
“This is a very difficult decision for us,” said Jorge Young, DAK's co-president. “The closure of the fibers operations comes after an extensive analysis of our ability to be cost competitive in an extremely challenging market that has faced prolonged and continuing pressure from low-priced imports. Current economics do not support the extensive investment needed to revitalize the site and meet future market needs. We thank our employees for their many years of commitment and service.”
The Cypress Gardens Road site will continue to make specialty resins for the bottle and packaging markets and will retain about 100 employees, the company said.
County officials were surprised and disappointed by the decision.
“DAK Americas has been actively engaged with our team to help find other job opportunities in Berkeley County," said Kristen Lanier, economic development director. "We will continue to proactively search and connect DAK employees with other industries and careers to ensure that through this closure, other opportunities are discovered.”
The company said affected workers will be provided a separation package as part of the shutdown.
DuPont brought the the polyester fibers plant to the Bushy park area in the early 1970s. DAK bought the business in 2001 and expanded the Cooper River site to include resin production capacity in 2003. The company's other South Carolina business is in Gaston, near Columbia.
DAK is a subsidiary of Alpek, a petrochemical company that makes a variety of polyester, plastic and chemical products that's owned by Alfa S.A.B. de C.V. of Monterrey, Mexico.
In 2020, Alpek reported revenues of $5.3 billion. The company operates 31 plants in the U.S., Mexico, Canada, Brazil, Argentina, Chile and the United Kingdom, and employs more than 6,000 workers.
Alpek is a publicly traded company listed on the Mexican Stock Exchange.