ASHEBORO — Calling the StarPet plant in Asheboro “our first baby in many ways,” Indorama Ventures founder Aloke Lohia said he “fell in love with the area in 2002.”
Lohia was speaking on May 1 at the 20th anniversary of the 2003 purchase of the Tiepet facility at 801 Pineview Road, Asheboro. “I have fond memories of this site,” he said.
He attributes much of the success of Indorama Ventures to the employees. “It is a people business. This site, when we acquired it, didn’t have a single customer. It started with Pepsi. This one site led customers to believe in us and support us.”
Lohia started Indorama Ventures in Bangkok, Thailand, before getting into the PET — polyethylene terephthalate — business in 1995. StarPet takes purified terephthalic acid (PTA) and turns it into PET, crystals and pellets that other manufacturers use to make plastic products such as bottles.
The Asheboro location was the first international expansion by Indorama Ventures and the first of 28 sites in seven US states.
The company is now global with 147 plants in 35 countries, employing 26,000 workers. Indorama Ventures has revenues of some $18.7 billion.
The 20th anniversary program, held in a large tent outside the plant, was emceed by Natasha Cannon.
Durgesh Kushwaha, assistant vice president of operations, welcomed the guests, the Indorama Ventures team and the employees. Concerning the local site, he said, “Asheboro has always been very special being the first in the United States and outside Thailand.”
Jason Greenwood, assistant vice president of production, said StarPet of Asheboro began with 50 employees and now has 114 workers producing around the clock. Products made from PET range from carbonated soft drink bottles and food containers to clothing, home furnishings and automotive production.
Indorama Ventures is now a leader in plastics recycling. The company has a goal of recycling 50 billion plastic bottles by 2025 while reducing energy and water usage as well as reduced emissions of greenhouse gases.
Muthukumar Paramasivam, business head IPET, gave more details about the business, saying that the purpose is to “reimagine chemistry together to create a better world.” That mission has resulted in $8.2 billion invested in the United States.
“Our products touch people’s daily lives,” Muthu said, providing them with products used for food and beverages, clothing and home care. Customers include a wide range of major, well-known corporations.
StarPet and Indorama Ventures are leading the way in recycling efforts because “economic success is related to social responsibility.”
Lohia stressed the importance of employees in the company’s success. “The people make the difference,” he said. “We have the largest market share globally. That’s happened because of our people.”
Lohia also credited local officials for playing a role in the success. He recognized Darrell Frye, chair of the Randolph County commissioners, Asheboro Mayor David Smith and NC Sen. Dave Craven. And, of course, the company staff. “Any success is a combination of the cooperation of people.
“We’re proud to be here. Thank you for your support.”
Frye told Lohia, “It’s been a great privilege to watch your growth. It’s proven that we know how to select companies of high quality. Your success speaks well to your personnel and your products.”
Smith followed Frye, saying with a chuckle, “I would dare say most people have no clue what you do here. But you’re important to the county and the quality of life in the community. We’re fortunate that 20 years ago you took a chance in Randolph County, your first foray outside Thailand. I wish more people could know what we know.”
Craven then spoke, noting, “North Carolina has been chosen as the best state to do business. It’s the people and their work ethic. Folks know what they’re doing at StarPet and increase the overall quality of life.”