Specialty Chemicals Manufacturing

Washington County is home to a strong and growing specialty chemicals manufacturing industry. These companies produce a range of products that use chemistry to make things better, including fibers, composites for construction products and household goods, and consumer products.

Our Supply Chain Advantage

Specialty chemical manufacturers in Washington County are close to important components of supply chains of other industries that use their products. This supply chain advantage provides great opportunities for growth for companies located in Washington County.

Eastman Chemical Company

Washington County is a short thirty-minute drive from Eastman Chemical Company, a major chemical manufacturer located in Kingsport, TN. Eastman produces a wide range of chemicals, fibers and plastics that can be used in many industries, including:

– Paint
– Adhesives
– Textiles
– Sports Bottles
– Pharmaceuticals
– Medical Devices

hand holding nylon beads

From 2009-2013, chemical manufacturing (NAICS 325) grew 131% in Washington County.

Between 1998 and 2013, 10,000 new jobs were created in the upstream chemical manufacturing cluster in the Kingsport-Bristol-Bristol VA/TN MSA (Source: U.S. Cluster Mapping, 2013).

Over 830 people are employed in the downstream chemical manufacturing cluster in Kingsport-Bristol-Bristol VA/TN MSA (Source: U.S. Cluster Mapping, 2013)

Who's Here?

Key Washington County Employers

Universal FibersSynthetic filament-based fibers500-599
Strongwell-Highlands DivisionComposite materials50-99
Appalachian PlasticsComposite materials20-49

Other Regional Employers: Virginia

General DynamicsAerospace components/ Composite materials400-499
Royal MouldingsComposite-based building materials400-499
Klockner PentaplastRigid film and sheet300-399
Hutchinson Sealing SystemsRubber seals (automotive)100-199
Strongwell - Bristol, VAComposite materials100-199
Longwood IndustriesEngineered rubber products50-99
Amcor Rigid PlasticsPlastic beverage bottles50-99
Quadrant Engineering Plastic ProductsIndustrial Plastics50-99
Coperion Corporation*Segmented screw elements for extruders1-19

*Supply chain for advanced materials industry

Strongwell products

Strongwell, headquartered in Bristol and with Washington County operations, is recognized as the world’s leading and largest pultruder of fiber-reinforced polymer (FRP) products. The company serves a diverse market of industrial and commercial customers. Examples of regionally produced products include:

– Bridge Components
– Handrail and Fencing Systems
– Grating, Decking, and Planking
– Building Panel Systems
– Ladder and Cage Systems

Universal Fibers samples


Washington County’s own Universal Fibers manufactures and supplies fibers to the automotive industry for use in car carpet. There are seven automotive assembly plants within 300 miles of Washington County, giving the company a supply chain advantage.


Wages for chemical manufacturing workers in the Kingsport-Bristol-Bristol VA/TN MSA are low to competitive compared with wages in similar markets.

Comparative Wages for Chemical Manufacturing

OccupationMSAHouston, TXMidland, MIBaton Rouge, LAUS average
Inspectors, Testers, Sorters, Samplers, and Weighers$18.52$23.90$16.03$23.50$18.95
Laborers and Material Movers, Hand$12.24$13.59$12.51$12.76$12.86
Packers and Packagers, Hand$10.23$11.10$10.06$10.81$11.40
Industrial Machinery Mechanics$22.38$26.61$34.79$26.4324.75

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2015

Transportation & Logistics

Located midway between the northern and southern U.S., Washington County has convenient interstate access to 40% of the U.S. population within a day’s drive. In addition to its convenient and efficient highway system, the region is connected by rail, air, and sea. Learn more

Education & Training

Washington County’s proximity to a number of community colleges and universities offers companies opportunities for collaborative research partnerships, technical assistance and testing services, and a pipeline of talent for internships and jobs.

The Macromolecules Innovation Institute (MII) at Virginia Tech, located 2 hours away in Blacksburg, VA, is one of the top institutes in the U.S. for polymer research. The Institute’s industrial partnership program provides direct access to employee training programs, communications, enhanced interactions with students and input into and access to data from research programs. Large partners include:

– Proctor and Gamble
– Dow
– Bayer Material Science
– Eastman
– PPG Industries

East Tennessee State University, located an hour away in Johnson City, TN, offers undergraduate degrees in a number of fields, including:

– Biochemistry
– Chemical Physics
– Chemistry

Contact Us

  • Whitney Bonham
    Whitney BonhamDirector of Economic Development and Community Relations
    Tel. 276-525-1300