Celanese Corporation (Dallas)

The Celanese Corporation was first founded in 1918 in New York as the American Cellulose and Chemical Manufacturing Company. At the time, the business intended to provide cheaper fabrics for the airplanes that were built during World War I, though production did not begin until 1924.  Its Maryland plant consumed large amounts of coal and cotton fiber to produce chemical and fabric products.  At its peak, about 13,000 workers were employed at this plant, which boasted its own rail lines on site.  In 1927, American Cellulose became the Celanese Corporation of America.

Today, the company produces a variety of chemical materials, primarily acetyl intermediates.  This group of chemicals includes acetic acid and vinyl acetate, which have applications in paints, coatings, other colorants, construction materials, and adhesives.  However, the company also produces plastics, electronics, and other systems that are used in the automotive, electronics, and telecommunications industries.  In 1987, Hoechst, a German chemical company, bought Celanese and merged it with their manufacturers in America to create Hoescht Celanese Corporation.  In 2003, the Blackstone Group took over Celanese and turned it into a publicly-traded company two years later.

With its long history of working with chemicals, many of them caustic and possibly hazardous to the workers who used them, the Celanese Corporation made use of asbestos in is plants and factories.  The mineral was generally used as a fireproofing material in many applications, including the heavy machinery found in factories, but since it is also fibrous and resistant to corrosion, it was used in much of the protective clothing worn by chemical workers.  Of course, it is now widely known that asbestos is a carcinogen and extremely hazardous when inhaled, but in decades past, it was considered almost a miracle mineral when it came to insulation and protection.

Despite its history with asbestos, the Celanese Corporation is still very much profitable, bringing in $5.92 billion in revenue in 2010 and employing 7,400 people.  It is one of the world’s largest producers of cellulose acetate tow.  These filaments are used in everything from cigarette filters and playing cards to clothing and industrial polymers.