Having been up close and personal with all of these locations, I would have to say that you are either quite biased or rather uninformed based on your posting; I suspect probably a good dollop of each.
I too, have been up close and personal, like having worked and lived at several. You must have never been to a real chemical plant to think that Mobile is anything other than a cobbled together run down piece of crap. This is Mobile, AL, remember, where many people have tin roofs, no A/C and only screens for windows. This mentality carries right into the plant. Ditto for Longview. Lumberjacks, Indians and Volcanoes. As for KZ? A bunch of old equipment (1958 and 1973) except for the EXCEL side, which, oh yeah, EXCEL never worked after $100 million investment. A single 6,500 gallon polyamines reactor. Whoopee !!!! I cannot speak for Bradford and Botlek, not personally have been there, but heard alot from those that had. Don't take this personal, this is just my opinion (which Cytec employees don't like). Ever been to Willow Island? Don't inhale the air. Peace, brother.
OS: Just a note. Last time I wandered through Lowe's corrugated metal roofing was more expensive than shingles. So, which is the cheap alternative?
Facility and equipment age is only peripheral. As you know the 6,900 gal reactor at KZ could produce a high volume of polyamines. We could have doubled the output with improved front-end cooling. That was the "sell" we could never make to the "manufacturing experts" who ran the business. Cytec's manufacturing experts all seem to be proud of never having spent any time in plants.
Being competitive in this area is not, primarily, having the newest and shiniest equipment. It is more having the intent and backbone required to be a significant player and making your marketing and research obtain those goals. Manufacturing follows that and should be upgraded for capability. Cyanamid/Cytec just didn't seem to have that push, or couldn't maintain it long enough to do be successful. The company is probably better off shedding products they do not intend to focus on. Of course, it helps to focus on something and make that work well.
Both excapnal and os114 are partially right. The buildings and, possibly, equipment probably don't look new and world class, but you don't need shiny new pots and pans to be in that business. What you need is the committment to be in the business and compete. Cyanamid/Cytec started losing that years ago. After Cytec and I parted ways I was both a user and competitor. As a small user, I could buy Cytec water-treating products at a premium and be guaranteed of almost no support. As a competitor, you could beat them on price and service. It's hard to charge a premium for average products and below-average service and survive. From "we lead" to "me too" about sums up Cyanamid/Cytec's water treating history. Lilley did a fine job of selling an old name without much substance.
One should also keep in mind the fact that in many cases, equipment is shared by more than one business, and while multiple business use of equipment might lead to more readily-justified upgrading, that will have little to do with how the commercial end of the business is managed. Mining chemicals vs Water-treating comes to mind.