Joann Bomar was fresh out of high school when her job search – spurred by her father – led her to the doors of the Spartanburg, South Carolina, manufacturing plant owned by Hoechst Celanese.
Then, just 18, Bomar wasn’t particularly interested in a career in manufacturing – or really, working at all.
“I slumped down in my chair… I did everything I could not to get hired,” she recalled, chuckling.
Bomar even hoped she wouldn’t pass the physical exam necessary to start work. But pass and get hired she did, and she began working swing shifts in the texturizing department – which has since been eliminated – at the plant, which now produces a variety of polyester reinforcement, filtration and specialty fabrics.
“It was hard,” Bomar said. “I told my father, ‘I won’t be here long.’”
That was 50 years ago.
“I just kept coming to work,” she said. “I started earning money and kept getting raises and I wanted to get more. Things were going good. If you’re happy in your job and you’re comfortable, stay there,” Joann said. “I’ve practically lived my whole life here.”
When Johns Manville acquired the spunbond/monofilament division of Hoechst in the 1990s – greatly expanding its synthetic product offerings in its Engineered Products business – Bomar became a Johns Manville employee. She has held various roles in the plant in texturizing, spinning, bailing and now as a production operator for spunbond.
“I’ve been all over the place (at Spartanburg),” she said. “I figure, if you’ve got to have a job, why jump?”
She continued, “I like most of the people and the management is good. It’s a good place to work. All you’ve got to do is come in and do your job.”
Bomar’s longevity with the company was recently celebrated with a luncheon at the plant in Spartanburg.
“Everyone was so nice. I told them ‘Y’all are embarrassing me,’” she said.
Plant Manager Andy Universal said the celebratory BBQ was full of congratulations from Bomar’s fellow employees.
“Joann would have been perfectly fine letting her 50th year come and go unnoted, but we weren’t going to let that happen,” Universal said. “Joann has been a core member of our production team for so many years, her process knowledge is immense and her consistency is unmatched.”
He continued, “I know her team really enjoys having her on their production crew, and everyone has learned a lot from her. She’s a joy to converse with, she is always interested and engaging and can make you smile even on the most challenging days.”
Bomar is the second woman to celebrate half a century of work at Spartanburg, with Mary McCraw, who works in the plant’s quality lab, having celebrated 50 years in January 2022. Universal said he is proud of the positive work environment maintained at Spartanburg, marked by ample opportunity to grow and progress.
“I think any time you know that you are a valued member of the team, and that you are vital and important, it’s motivating and fulfilling, that leads to people wanting to stay,” he said. “In Spartanburg culturing a respectful workplace is of the utmost importance to us, and I think that lays the groundwork for everyone to have a chance to be successful.”
Bomar will undoubtedly be missed when she retires later this year.
“Joann’s abilities extend beyond her process knowledge; it’s her attention to detail, consistency and approachability that have set her apart over the years,” Universal said.
Bomar said she’s looking forward to retiring in June, to spend time with her daughters, her grandchildren and great-grandchildren and her 91-year-old mother, who lives with her.
“They’ve been wanting me to retire for a while,” she said. “I’m going to put my feet up and I might sew for people a bit; I’m good at sewing. But I plan on enjoying my time.”