The Chemours Company, a global chemical firm, opened its renovated company headquarters on January 15 within the historic, 106-year-old DuPont Building on Rodney Square in downtown Wilmington — the former headquarters of DuPont, which spun off Chemours in 2015.
“This is a place that our team can be proud to call home,” Chemours President and CEO Mark Vergnano told the gathering of local dignitaries. “Our renovated office is a perfect metaphor for Chemours – a company grounded in its legacy, but transforming into an agile, innovative and collaborative enterprise with a bias for actions and growth.”
Now in his fourth year as leader of the new company, Vergnano expressed continued confidence about Chemours’ future growth in a time of market turmoil. In an interview with Delaware Business Times after the ceremony, Vegnano said, “People recognize that we’re the world leaders in our fields, and the market gets that,” he said, referring to the decentralized firm’s three operating units – Titanium Technologies, Flouroproducts and Chemical Solutions.
The new headquarters will occupy 280,000 square feet in an 11-story segment of the building that is owned by the Buccini/Pollin Group (BPG), which also oversaw the 20-month renovation. Chemours’ share of construction costs was $30 million.
Vergnano said his company made a conscious decision not to change the building’s name to the Chemours Building out of respect for the company’s heritage, which dates back to the founding of DuPont on Brandywine Creek in 1802.
U.S. Sen. Tom Carper, Gov. John Carney, Wilmington Mayor Mike Purzycki and BPG Co-President Christopher Buccini were among the speakers at the ceremony and ribbon-cutting event that took place in the ornate Nobel Room on the 11th Floor.
Buccini purchased the building, including the Hotel du Pont, from Chemours in 2017 and set about revitalizing the structure, including adding residential units.
“After having renovated the Nemours and Brandywine buildings earlier, we had the knowledge of what worked and what didn’t work,” Buccini said. “This project stressed tested our company’s capabilities.” In his prepared remarks, Buccini noted that “Chemours’ decision to be based in this historic building is a fitting tribute to their heritage, while their 21st Century workspace points boldly to their future. We are proud to have been on this journey with them.”
Approximately 850 Chemours employees and contractors will work in the headquarters, which has 125 meeting rooms, 73 conference rooms and one café per floor of the building. The structure’s open-concept design features ergonomic chairs and sit/stand desks. In addition, 500 marble panels were recovered during renovation– about 50 tons in all – and reused in the building.
Carney noted that “this is probably the happiest day I’ve had in my two years as governor,” crediting the work done toward keeping Chemours in Wilmington and Delaware by his predecessor, former governor Jack Markell. “The state of Delaware can’t be successful without Wilmington being successful, and Wilmington can’t be successful” without a strong business base.
Purzycki, who followed Governor Carney to the podium, said, “If John is happy, you can’t imagine how happy the mayor of Wilmington is.”
Business analysts continue to be bullish on Chemours, most rating it a “buy” or “strong buy” to potential investors. Vergnano expressed confidence in the strength of the American economy, while noting that global market volatility continued to make the company’s stock undervalued. “I was given the advice by other CEO’s when I took over not to check the stock price every day,” he said. “We can’t control market volatility, which is a reflection of the fact that the market hates uncertainty.”
He re-stated his opinion that Chemours, with its worldwide manufacturing and marketing capabilities, is positioned better than most companies to weather this uncertainty, which includes tariff wars, the slowdown of the Chinese economy and what will play out with Brexit, the UK’s planned withdrawal from the EU.
“We’re not interested in acquisitions or new business outside the three areas where we have a strong presence,” he said. “Second, we will continue to invest in ourselves [through normal business expansion]. And, we will continue to provide cash back to our stockholders.”
Chemours had annual revenue in 2017 of more than $6 billion and with 45 manufacturing and laboratory sites worldwide, serving customers in over 130 countries.