“Some of their products are even used in filters that help protect our troops in combat. We’re proud to have this multi-national company right here in Hancock County.” Lisa Cowand, Hancock County Board of Supervisors President
One location of the world’s largest manufacturer of activated carbon products can be found in Hancock County’s Port Bienville Industrial Park.
Calgon Carbon, which opened in Port Bienville in 1991, is a multi-national company that makes many different activated carbon products to purify liquid and gas streams. The company produces more than 100 types of granular, powdered and pelletized activated carbons made from coal, wood and coconut. For 40 years, Calgon Carbon has been at the forefront of municipal drinking water treatment while other products are used in chemical warfare protection, which supports US servicemen overseas.
Although the Pittsburgh-based company originally sited in South Mississippi to more easily ship products to Europe and Asia, the quality of the work force has been a good reason for the company to stay, says Jim Lewis, plant manager of Calgon Carbon Corp. at Port Bienville.
“I can say without a doubt that the work force here is the best in the country,” he adds.
Lewis expects business to continue to grow. He noted a recent regulation on drinking water standards. “The EPA put in a new rule that forces many different water authorities to control organics in their drinking water supply. One of the best ways to do that is with an activated carbon pre-treatment step, to remove those organics from the beginning. So that’s one growth market.”
Calgon Carbon’s plant in Hancock County was originally conceived of as a self-directed work team model, without the layers of supervisors found in many plants. It was a relatively new concept at the time the plant opened in 1991, but has proved itself over time with the forty-plus employees.
“The plant operates with a very lean staff,” explains Lewis. “The management recognizes that their role is to educate the work force and equip them to make good decisions. We’ve been very successful here with that.”
Lewis worked at the plant for seven years earlier, but was transferred away in 2004, only to return this fall. “We love this area,” he says. “Our two sons spent seven years here, and then when we moved away, they griped the whole time they were gone.”