"Even though the sprinkler system came on, (the fire) was just very aggressive and continued to spread," Bloom said. "We lost our big mixer line and almost all the raw materials. We did salvage some equipment in other parts of that plant that weren't as badly damaged—one intermesh line and a strainer, and some lab equipment. But overall, it's a total loss from the standpoint of the plant.
Fire and insurance investigators continue to look for the cause, according to the Hexpol executive. The compound that was running in the mixer was a stable compound with a long history of successful processing.
"We've run it for this customer for millions and millions of pounds," Bloom said. "There is something else that happened, either in the system, or something failed in the control valve."
Hexpol does have enough capacity across the U.S., but he said there has been much work involved to re-source or move product around to other facilities, citing the need to gain needed approvals and certifications. In addition, the supply chain worked diligently to replace the amount of raw materials lost to the fire, something that is difficult in a tight market.
"We've had to move 882 parts, and we've done that successfully in less than 30 days," he said. "Customers have been absolutely a pleasure to work with, and our team has worked 24/7, and we've not had one outage or a situation where a customer shut down an assembly line."
The Jonesborough site had about 100 employees, including hourly and salaried staff. Some of those have moved to other company facilities while others have been laid off and are receiving severance and other support from Hexpol. There still are a handful of workers on site, Bloom said, to support cleanup efforts and work on transitioning efforts for customers.