DuPont is celebrating 25 years of manufacturing super-strong Kevlar® at its Derry plant.
The Maydown plant, which employs almost 200 people, is one of only three Kevlar® plants in the world and the only one located in Europe.
Kevlar® is extraordinarily strong, lightweight fibre that is - on an equal-weight basis - five times stronger than steel. It is best known for its use in protective garments worn by men and women who face danger in their jobs, such as fire-fighters. Even fictional character Bruce Wayne turns to the super-strength material for his Batman outfit. It’s tough and durable, but also light, making it easier and less restrictive to wear.
Claude Metzdorf, Plant Manager, DuPont Maydown, said: “The ongoing investment in our staff, research and development and our infrastructure is testament to the success being achieved at the plant locally, and by Kevlar® globally.
“We have a rich history at Maydown, as you would imagine for a company that’s been here for over 50 years, and we’re looking forward to a bright future and continued success.”
DuPont staff, past and present, shared some of their memories of the site recently. DuPont’s presence at the site stretches back to January 1958.
Former Maydown Works Site Manager Peter McKie said: “The site was a former WWII airfield that had been out of service for five or six years when DuPont arrived. In fact, you can still see the tracks of the runways today if you know where to look.”
Bert Whoriskey, now retired, worked in Operations and remembers vividly the site being used by the army. “As a youngster, I can recall watching pilots train for deck landings on aircraft carriers – which sometimes resulted in crashes. Memories like that stay with you. I joined DuPont years later – in 1967. The site provided a boost for the town and gave those of us working there a great standard of living.”
Bert’s son Bobby Whoriskey, who works in production, recalled: “I grew up with stories about DuPont so it was always an aspiration of mine to work there. To date, three generations of my family have been employed by DuPont.”
Noel Brady, Maydown’s current longest-serving employee, said: “DuPont always looked after its employees. Health and safety was, and still is, a massive priority, which anyone who has been to the plant can tell you. We continue to enjoy an excellent safety record.”
Mr Metzdorf said the success of the product was down to the staff.