BASF Goes Brownfield With New Plant
Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm (third from left) was among officials participating in the BASF groundbreaking at Wyandotte.
Global chemical giant BASF has had a base in Wyandotte Mich., since 1969 when it acquired Wyandotte Chemical Corp. Nearly four decades hence, another acquisition has the company breaking ground in the city for a new manufacturing plant. The new $147-million facility will house the R&D, administrative and manufacturing operations of recently acquired Johnson Polymer of Sturtevant, Wis. BASF is already Wyandotte's largest employer with 1,000 people, and the new facility will add another 175 jobs.
Choosing Wyandotte was a five-month endeavor for BASF, a process honchoed by Ed Nuernberg, general manager of BASF's Wyandotte site. It was the first site project for Nuernberg, a 33-year BASF veteran.
"I enjoyed it very much. It gave me an opportunity to bring my engineering, HR and business experiences to the project," Nuernberg says. "This project had lots of different twists. We've done plants from the ground up, but this time we bought a business and then had to make a site selection. Before, the site selection always was internal to BASF."
New Jersey-based BASF Corporation was formed in 1986 and is the North American affiliate of Germany-based BASF AG, one of the world's leading chemical companies. The company produces a wide range of products from chemicals, plastics and agricultural products to crude oil and natural gas. Current employment in Wyandotte represents about half of BASF's Michigan work force.
According to BASF's news release of September 2006, the relocation plan was necessary because JohnsonDiversey elected not to sell the Sturtevant facilities to BASF.
"The research facility and plant would have remained in Sturtevant, except that one requirement with Johnson Polymer was that we had to relocate by the end of 2009," Nuernberg says. "We offered positions in Wyandotte to the Johnson employees in the business office, R&D and manufacturing operations."
Economics was the deciding factor in BASF opting for Wyandotte over company sites in Chattanooga, Tenn., and Freeport, Texas.
"Our negotiations focused on having the state of Michigan meet parity with Tennessee," Nuernberg says. "Michigan had a better deal. Freeport was thrown out first, due to the high cost of construction now along the Gulf Coast."