Written on: May 11th, 2015 in Job Creation
Those of us who have spent most of our lives in Delaware know what DuPont means to this state. We travel the duPont Highway, attend schools named after duPont family members, and tour former duPont estates. The presence of the duPont family and the great company that they built here in Delaware is so ubiquitous that it’s easy to take for granted.
But the greatest legacy of DuPont in Delaware isn’t found in estates, school names, or highways – it’s in generations of good jobs at the DuPont Company.
For more than 200 years, people have come to Delaware to work for DuPont. From immigrants seeking jobs in the gunpowder mills to chemists inventing the products that defined the 20th century, DuPont’s presence in Delaware created good jobs that supported families, built nest eggs (often with company stock) and sent kids to college.
For generations, a strong DuPont Company helped build a strong Delaware. And Delawareans helped build a strong DuPont.
Two centuries of growth and job creation don’t happen by accident. They happened because the management of the DuPont Company knew that leadership in the economies of yesterday, today, and tomorrow requires constant innovation and change. What was once a company that milled gunpowder became a leader in plastics. What was once a company that touted “Better Living Through Chemistry” is today a world leader in biotechnology and renewable fuels.
DuPont’s leaders of today have the same spirit of innovation and invention that drove their forebears. DuPont is using science to develop innovative products to solve global challenges. It is providing for healthier foods, more efficient and safer energy, stronger infrastructure, and enhanced transportation through sustainable advanced materials.
Much of that work is happening right here in Delaware. From DuPont’s Wilmington Experimental Station to its Stine-Haskell Research Center in Newark, the innovation that will shape our economy and our lives in the future is happening in our state.
Yet the DuPont we all know is now under attack.
Trian Fund Management has bought millions of shares of the company and is now seeking to unseat some of the company’s board members in favor of its own nominees. At root, Trian’s purpose is to drive returns for the fund, not by growing DuPont or expanding its history of innovation, but by cutting the company into pieces.
Trian’s agenda should worry all of us – not only as shareholders or avid watchers of DuPont – but also as Delawareans.
Trian’s agenda is about cutting costs to drive profits, not creating new products. Where are the $2 billion to $4 billion in costs that Trian wants to cut? Many are right here in Delaware. When Trian calls for cutting corporate overhead, it could be talking about your neighbor’s job. When the firm talks about spinning off corporate divisions, it could be talking about moving management jobs from Delaware to somewhere else.
And most important is what Trian is not talking about – investing in research and development to create the products of tomorrow.
This sort of short-term financial engineering is designed to create quick returns – not long-term value for workers, shareholders, and communities.
Trian’s short-term plans are not going to seed the growth of neighborhoods and quality jobs in the future. And they ignore DuPont’s contributions of assisting the jobless of Wilmington, helping build the Wilmington Institute Free Library, creating the Hagley Museum, and supporting the Delaware Art Museum.
CEO Ellen Kullman is the kind of DuPont leader who, like her predecessors, has an aggressive drive to innovate and reshape the company to thrive in the markets of tomorrow. She has made tough choices like selling businesses that were no longer core to DuPont’s future success and spinning-off the company Chemours, which I hope will create its own distinguished record of innovation and experimentation.
Throughout these changes, Kullman has been focused on creating a stronger DuPont – a company that is investing in the cutting edge science that will drive the economy of tomorrow. And she has done it from here in Delaware.
This week’s proxy vote is about the strategic vision of a company with a record on investment that has improved the quality of life of Delawareans and people around the world. It’s about whether DuPont should pursue a path of continued leadership in innovations that support jobs, long-term shareholder earnings, and community investment – or sacrifice those tremendous benefits to try to turn a quick profit for some investors. For 200 years, our “return on investment” in DuPont has been a stronger community and quality jobs. A strong DuPont has yielded a strong Delaware, and it is my hope that another Delaware governor, 200 years from now, will say the same.