Avtex, Maker of Fiber for Shuttle, to Reopen Plant
Avtex Fibers Inc., which closed Nov. 3 and threw 1,300 employees out of work, announced Wednesday that it won some long-term aerospace contracts that will allow it to reopen, thereby assuring the National Aeronautics and Space Administration vital booster material for its space shuttle program.
John Gregg, Avtex chairman and chief executive, said the company, encouraged by NASA and the Defense Department, “was able to negotiate a long-term contract with certain aerospace industrial companies that will allow the plant to return to full production.
“Avtex has dedicated considerable resources over the last several years to the research and development of specialty fibers. Were it not for the special fibers produced by Avtex, we would not have been successful in reopening the plant on a long-term basis,” he said.
Avtex, which will reopen today, is the world’s largest manufacturer of rayon, and company officials blamed foreign competition for its closing.
The reopening is good news for NASA because Avtex is its only domestic supplier of special rayon fibers for space shuttle boosters. NASA officials said last week that they had enough of fiber on hand for “11 or 12” launches, or through April, 1990.
About 5% of the company’s production involves material for the boosters.
NASA was preparing a formal comment on Gregg’s announcement Wednesday.
Gregg said: “Avtex will continue to focus on expanding its business in the specialty fibers market. In doing so, it will limit its vulnerability to competition from foreign-owned competitors.”