SABIC, Owens Corning and CSX make up a large portion of Bethlehem’s industrial base in Selkirk. This arial photo is taken from the Feura Bush side of the CSX rail yard. Jim Franco/Spotlight News
BETHLEHEM — Creble Road is considered a gateway to Feura Bush. It’s a high-speed vortex that takes you from Selkirk to Feura Bush to Delmar within five minutes.
Sometimes the smell of plastic greets you. Sometimes, you see trains moving around. The fumes from the factories in that area are sometimes thick, but it’s clear things are happening in this quadroon of town.
The Bethlehem industrial district is home to several big businesses, including SABIC, Owens Corning and CSX. Matheson Gas also hangs out next door to Owens Corning, albeit further away from the road than its neighbors.
SABIC, a public company based out of Saudi Arabia, produces “distinctly different kinds of high performance plastics. We support our customers by identifying and developing opportunities in key end markets such as construction, medical devices, packaging, electrical and electronics, and transportation,” Shelia Naab, SABIC corporate affairs leader, said. The complex is a sprawling, crazy metropolis of buildings, machinery and roads. You see work trucks moving throughout the site and weaving on Creble, but it’s never totally clear what’s being worked on.
SABIC has a sprawling presence in the area, but it does more than make plastic and give drivers a massive sight. SABIC prides itself in giving back to the community, Naab said, something the business does in many ways.
Naab said SABIC raises anywhere from $30,000 to $40,000 each year for the United Way. Employees participate in blood drives through the American Red Cross up to three times a year. In the mix are also community days, where employees embark on volunteer missions, and lessons to seventh and eighth graders at Ravena-Coeymans-Selkirk Middle School about career planning and personal finance. SABIC also has donated clothing to Unity House in Troy, amongst other notable community contributions.
“SABIC understands that our actions, values, and vision play a foundational role in ensuring the success of future generations,” Naab said. “We invest in the regions and locations where we operate, building healthy, resilient communities. We provide financial and societal benefit to our communities through employment, direct and indirect economic stimulation from our business activities, as well as charitable giving and social responsibility initiatives.”
From Creble, you take a right and drive smack into a sign that indicates you’ve hit Owens Corning. The pink awnings say it all — they match the pink insulation this company makes. Fiberglass insulation, for that matter.
Delmar plant manager Casey Crowley said this location is the hub of much of the insulation that travels through the northeast. It also hosts the biggest solar panel farm in the state and one of the biggest in the nation. Being a huge supporter of renewable resources wherever possible, Owens Corning is leaving a thoughtful footprint all over town.
Crowley said of the 274 employees, 64 have been with the company for over 25 years. Seven of them have been employed since the opening of the facility in 1976. Crowley credits this loyalty to the work schedule that works for so many; employees work for three days on and three days off. Because the plant is operational all day, everyday, there is always people there.
“Our plant really does embrace company values and it’s clear from who we hire that our employees do too,” Crowley said. Crowley continued the plant has contributed to many notable causes, including donating hygiene kits to local women’s support groups. Owens Corning is a proud member of the Bethlehem Chamber of Commerce, an organization that thrives on small business participation. Toys for Tots and Habitat for Humanity are frequent recipients of goods. Owens Corning also does a lot internally — when an employee needed a heart transplant, many of their coworkers were running in relays and trying to help however they can.
“Our motto is ‘our people and our product make the world a better place’,” Crowley said. “I’ve always been proud to work for Owens Corning and I’m proud of how our plant contributes to this area.”
If you circle around and go back to Creble, you’ll see a ton of trains. If you’re driving on Route 9W, you’ll see tracks underneath the road. These aren’t just any train tracks; these are the mark of CSX, a leading supplier of rail-based freight transportation in North America. If you’re lucky, you’ll hear the trains switching tracks.
CSX strives to accomplish a simple mission — it wants to be the best freight railroad company. While it certainly gets up to par in the sheer amount of cargo it moves daily (seriously, try to watch sometime, you’ll be floored how many trains move through), CSX is also extremely committed to Selkirk.
“We are proud to support military families and first responders through CSX Pride in Service , a corporate community investment program to honor and serve those who serve our country and communities – our nation’s veterans, active military, and first responders,” CSX spokeswoman Sheriee Brown said. “We are proud to receive the community’s support and continue to give back.”
CSX also aims to hire and keep its hard-working employees, residents of surrounding towns. “[We want to] act with integrity, make sure employees know what is expected of them and reward them when they do the right things,” the website states, “and always strive to get better.”