Celebrating 40 Years of DuPont Teijin Films and 100 Years of Local History
By Caitlin Davis
Oct 1, 2012, 12:49
The lawn at DuPont Teijin Films in Chesterfield was filled with former and current plant workers and their families for the 40th Anniversary and Family Day Celebration on Saturday.
photo by Caitin Davis Guests at DuPont’s 40th Anniversary Celebration on Saturday took hayrides during the event. Guests also ate picnic lunch and enjoyed face painting, plant tours and up close looks at a fire truck and ambulance.
The plant, which specializes in supplying high performance polyester films, opened their doors and their lawn for families and provided food, hayrides, tours of the plant, face painting and moon bounces for the celebration.
Plant Manager Joe Bourne opened up the 40th anniversary celebration on Saturday by noting the accomplishments of many employees who have been with the company for 40 years, saying it was a display of one of the reasons he enjoys overseeing the day to day operations and the over 400 employees at the plant.
“One of the great blessings of working here is that we’ve got a great group of people that really do like each other, spend time together and stay committed to the business over a long, long period of time,” Bourne said.
The company has a storied history in the region, dating back to the early 1900s when Hopewell was growing as a DuPont company town, making supplies for WWI.
On Saturday, Bourne recalled the plant’s past 40 years and the changes seen during that time. He recalled the devices that have come and gone since the plant has been open and operational, including eight track cassette tapes, VCR tapes and floppy disks.
“I’m really glad that’s gone,” he said.
Bourne said though those things have come and gone, DuPont is still providing film for devices in use today, including flat panel displays, touch-screens for cell phones, medical devices and high efficiency lighting.
“Things that are trending today we are still a part of, and that’s why we’re still here after 40 years,” Bourne said. “It is not enough to show up and merely be good at what you do. You’ve got to be determined to succeed and committed to excellence.”
Becky McDonough, Executive Vice President of the Hopewell/Prince George Chamber of Commerce, also spoke at the celebration, noting her journey to the podium was much longer than her walk from her seat.
McDonough said her grandfather left Winston-Salem North Carolina to move to Hopewell and work at DuPont, which was making dynamite at the time. She said while he did not retire from DuPont, the skills he gained helped in his future endeavors. She too, also had a personal story with the company, saying it was one of her first stops during her career in chemical sales.
“Here we are today and here I am with you,” McDonough said.
McDonough said it was not just a 40th anniversary celebration, it was also a 100th anniversary celebration because DuPont built at City Point on the land of the Eppes family in 1912.
The company built that first factory after purchasing 800 acres of local land in 1912, attracted by the deep water port and rail facilities. In 1914, DuPont bought another 1,600 acres of the Eppes estate and built the largest gun cotton plant in the world, transforming Hopewell into a booming company town.
Although the company left Hopewell in 1918, it didn’t go far afield for the location of the current plant.
“This is not just a 40th anniversary of this site, it is a 100th anniversary of manufacturing in this region,” McDonough said. “I’m just really, really proud to be here.”
Ruth Williams, who has been Finance Clerk for 40 years at DuPont, said Family Day was one her favorite events because it brought everyone from the plant together.
“It lets people get together in a non-work atmosphere,” Williams said. “Families get together...it’s families meeting families.”
photo by Caitlin Davis Guests gathered on the lawn at DuPont in Chesterfield to celebrate 40 years.
She said she enjoyed seeing everyone and continuing to get to know her co-workers outside of the office.
Williams said DuPont was a great place to work, noting she never thought it would become such a long-standing job.
“It has been a good place to work for all these years,” Williams said. “The company actually cares about you.”
Phyllis King, and her husband, Tom King of Chester, brought their granddaughter, Alexa Rose, 9, to family day and said she was “having a ball.”
Tom, former building and grounds supervisor with DuPont, was enjoying his Saturday celebrating 40 years with the company.
“It’s been great to see some of my friends,” Tom said.
photo by Caitlin Davis Alexa Rose, 9, of Chester, smiled as she slid down the moon bounce at DuPont’s Family Day. The plant celebrated 40 years on Saturday.
Families also were able to get a look inside a firetruck and ambulance during Family Day. Lt. Harry Gladding, with Chesterfield Station 18, said the station was invited by DuPont to attend and they were happy to bring trucks and staff to the event.
“It is an opportunity to spread the word of safety,” Gladding said as he showed children the inside of the fire engine.
As families continued to enjoy all activities of the day, Bourne took a few moments to talk about another accomplishment of the plant: it has gone over 1,000 days without a reported injury.
“That’s a testimony not to me, but it’s a testimony to the team,” Bourne said.
Bourne, who said his favorite part of Family Day was watching the current and former employees break bread together while enjoying each other’s company.
“I have never met a DuPonter that I would be embarrassed to take home to my family,” Bourne said. “It is just good people.”
As for the future of the company, Bourne is looking forward to another 40 years.
“I think DuPont’s got a great future,” Bourne said “...we are staying up on the most current technology.”