Outlook bright for Firestone Polymers

Published 8:02 pm Saturday, April 7, 2012

EDITOR’S NOTE: This is one of a series of occasional pieces profiling major industrial plants in Southwest Louisiana.

Firestone Polymers, a subsidiary of Bridgestone Corp., produces synthetic rubber used in tire production around the world.

Its plant, built in 1942 near Sulphur, was purchased by Firestone in 1955 and then by Bridgestone in 1988. Firestone Polymers supplies 37 tire plants in 20 countries.

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“The plant location was chosen due to the availability of raw materials, labor workforce and diverse transportation options by railroad, trucking and waterway,” said Gene Lavengco, president of Firestone Polymers.

He said the plant produces about 420 million pounds of synthetic rubber annually — about 65 percent of total FSPC production. The company has three plants in the United States.

Lavengco said the company generates from $25 million to $30 million for the local economy.

“More than 90 percent of our employees are from the local area,” he said. “The Lake Charles and surrounding area has a great, experienced workforce for meeting our needs, as well as an outstanding college system for meeting our technical and educational requirements.”

He said the company employs about 300 and uses many local contractors for capital improvement projects and weekly maintenance.

“We operate 24 hours a day, 365 days a year,” he said. “We produce approximately 1.2 million pounds of rubber/day and ship about 1 million pounds a day by truck and railcar.”

He also said Firestone Polymers is one of two synthetic rubber plants in the United States certified by the federal government as a VPP worksite for Outstanding Safety recognition.

“The outlook for Firestone Polymers is very bright,” he said. “We are at 100 percent capacity in 2012 and also expanding production facilities this year to meet demand. Our forecast is to a sold-out plant for the next five years, with continued growth in the horizon.”””

(Special to the American Press)


(Special to the American Press)