National Gypsum planning to reopen Wilmington plant

National Gypsum
A sign in front of the National Gypsum plant on Sunnyvale Drive in Wilmington. (Photo: Justin McKee/WWAY)

WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — A gypsum board plant that has stood dormant for almost ten years is coming back to life.

National Gypsum CEO Tom Nelson was in Wilmington Tuesday morning to announce the return of his company to the Cape Fear. The company plans to spend $25 million over the next five years to upgrade existing machinery and install new equipment.

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Twenty-year National Gypsum employee Lance Davis was chosen to be the manager of the Wilmington plant. He says the plant will be up and running very soon.

“It’s really short time; 10/26 is the date,” Davis said. “I’m just thankful that we had this press conference today, because now the gag order is off, and I can talk to people around town about getting some things done.”

The company says they’re trying to reach out to the Wilmington plant’s former employees first.

“I think one of the reasons I got picked, I’m pretty good at picking teams and I’m a people guy so I’ll be on the floor a lot with the people,” Davis said.

There was some controversy over formaldehyde emissions the plant could potentially produce.Those concerns were ultimately dismissed, and last month New Hanover County and the City of Wilmington approved incentive money for the company.

“Believe me, I asked a lot of questions as did all the other elected officials here and without missing a beat, we got everything answered from environmental side to regulatory side, etc. The good news of course is a $25 million investment into our community,” New Hanover County Commissioner Rob Zapple said.

As a builder himself, Zapple is happy to see the plant return. It closed in 2009.

“There’s a certain amount of pride to have a good, strong manufacturing base here in New Hanover County. I certainly will be using the product,” Zapple said.

The plant’s reopening will create 51 new jobs that will average a salary of $57,000 per year. The lowest paying job will be for $50,000 annually.