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Local foam company sold?

Jun 29, 2023

Has the NCFI Polyurethanes company in Mount Airy been sold?

While no official announcement has been made by NCFI officials or those of its parent company, employees of the local foam products manufacturer headquartered on Carter Street learned this week that it is changing hands, according to a source.

“They just told them yesterday about four o’clock as they were leaving,” that individual said Tuesday.

NCFI Polyurethanes is one of the oldest industries in Mount Airy, having occupied its manufacturing plant on Carter Street since 1966.

It is located near Nester Hosiery in Mount Airy Industrial Park, where NCFI makes flexible foam, spray foam, roofing systems, spray foam insulation and other products for residential, agricultural, commercial, institutional and industrial uses.

Various online listings show NCFI with about 250 employees.

According to the source, who is related to one of those workers, the local operation was bought out by Carpenter Co., based in Richmond, Virginia.

Carpenter, founded in 1950, is said to be a major producer of comfort products and an innovator, manufacturer and supplier of foam, fiber and chemicals. It has been described as “the world’s largest vertically integrated manufacturer of polyurethane foams.”

The Richmond company has been in an expansion mode of late, evidenced by Carpenter’s acquisition in June of Recticel N.V.’s Engineered Foams Division, a Belgian company that traces its roots to 1778.

Efforts to contact officials of NCFI Polyurethanes over the past two days regarding the reported acquisition proved unsuccessful.

Meanwhile, Hobie Claiborne, chief legal officer, general counsel and secretary for Carpenter Co., did respond to a voice-mail message Wednesday afternoon, and referred questions to Justin Swain, chief financial officer of Barnhardt Manufacturing in Charlotte, the parent company of NCFI.

No one at Barnhardt could be reached.

However, the source who contacted The Mount Airy News said NCFI employees were told by management personnel this week that the changeover in ownership will go into effect at the end of September.

That disclosure is said to have prompted a degree of uncertainly among those workers, who fear it might lead to the local plant being shut down or “gutted,” as articulated by the source.

Company history information on NCFI’s website shows it was organized in the 1960s by research chemist Dr. H.W. “Ace” Bradley and Barnhardt Manufacturing Co. Bradley had been a member of the Manhattan Project during World War II.

In addition to its 280,000-square-foot facility in Mount Airy, NCFI has a manufacturing plant in Hickory and two others in Dalton, Georgia, and Salt Lake City, Utah, according to the website.

Barnhardt was reported in July to have sold one of its divisions.

Tom Joyce may be reached at 336-415-4693.