Archive for Friday, January 6, 2006

Serologicals to sell Lawrence plant

January 6, 2006


Serologicals Corp. announced Friday that it would not open its $28 million bio-manufacturing plant in the East Hills Business Park, and instead would prepare the property for sale.

The plant, once hailed as the cornerstone for the city's life-sciences development efforts, has been idle for nearly a year, after the company laid off 19 of the plant's 26 employees. The plant was to produce Ex-Cyte, a cell-culture medium used by pharmaceutical companies and others for research and development.

The Atlanta-based company said that it would sell the Lawrence plant and another in Toronto, and their operations would be transferred to an existing plant in Kankakee, Ill.

The Lawrence plant never did reach full production Although it did run test batches of Ex-Cyte that met internal standards, Serologicals officials maintained that some of the company's biggest customers had yet to run their own tests.

Just last month, a company official said that four out of five "big-pharma" companies had completed their tests, and that the fifth would be done by the end of March - the deadline company officials had maintained for starting full production at the plant.


lunacydetector 12 years, 4 months ago

culture farms....culture farms.....culture farms......

so much for bringing a company that would've paid a 'living wage.' i wonder if kankakee, IL has a 'living wage' ordinance.

christie 12 years, 4 months ago

Is this another company that got massive tax breaks as well? Are they in default? I say the city should confiscate the land and sell it to the highest bidder to pay off the unpaid taxes.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 12 years, 4 months ago

You are so full of common sense that it probably doesn't occur to you that this decision very likely has zero to do with abatements or living wage ordinances.

But I'm curious, Kevin, why are you here if Kankakee is so much better than here?

christie 12 years, 4 months ago

I don't totally agree macon.

You get what you pay for in this world. Now if you look at the richest man in the world, Bill Gates, and follow his example, then perhaps you too could become wealthy. Bill Gates hired the brightest minds available, paid them very very well, and the rest is history.

Finding employees willing to work for minimum wage might mean a few more dollars on the balance sheet, but I can assure you employee turnover will be high, as well as pilfering, leading to an offset perhaps higher than the positive flow. Studies have shown that employee turnover is very expensive, and the number one cause of company failure.

I work for a company that pays me very well. I haven't missed a day in 7 years. I show up on time and leave when the job is finished, not at 4:59. If I have to, I work nights and some weekends, even holidays. I value my job. My employer values my skill. He makes good money, and so do I ( 50k+ ).

There are many people in Lawrence who are willing to produce, but not many employers value them, so we commute to KC and beyond.

When companies in Lawrence start to value their employees, and pay them what they are worth, then we'll come back to work where we live.

badger 12 years, 4 months ago

I worked for a Lawrence company. I put in between 50 and 70 hours every week, staying as late as midnight or 1 am if the job needed to be done when the office opened up at 8. Being salary, I got no overtime for it. Once in a blue moon, I'd be thrown a half-day of comp time as the boss walked out the door at 2 or 3 in the afternoon. I got glowing reviews from the people I actually worked with and under, but the boss was the one doing performance reviews, and he'd usually come up with a laundry list of 'necessary improvements' that meant no raise, no bonus, no appreciation. Now, mind you, these improvements had little to do with our job performance. I was chided for scuffed soles, and a co-worker because she wore her long hair down every day, both of which he felt were 'unprofessional' attitudes and full reason to deny both of us raises. I started in a relatively low-level position, but was trained to do a much higher-level one and given those responsibilities (gradually, over four years, usually under the guise of, "Can you handle this until we can hire someone to do it full-time?") without any increase in title or pay.

When I moved to Austin, I handed over a resume and a salary history to a recruiter. She blinked at it and said, "Is Lawrence a really small town or were you working for a not-for-profit?" I told her how big Lawrence is, and she explained I'd been grossly underpaid for what I was actually doing. I am making more than thirty percent more here than I was in Lawrence, doing a similar job with a different title.

I stayed there because there weren't any other options in Lawrence, and I didn't want to commute. I was able to live on what I was making, though not save very much for emergencies or Christmas. I paid through the nose for my insurance, and there were not exactly a lot of benefits coming to us.

You want to know why technical professionals tend to live in Lawrence and work in KC? That would be why, because the jobs available to them in Lawrence are not particularly appealing.

I was considered for a position at Serologicals almost two years ago, and almost hired. I was waiting back for final hiring approval when the position was put on hold indefinitely; I don't think it was ever filled, because when I called back a month later, it was still on hold, and another month later I was told, "It's still on hold and we're reorganizing the department. We'll have you come in to fill out final paperwork and get the offer letter over to the recruiter when we finalize which department the position will be in." The recruiter never heard from them again.

I don't know that this is about living wages or tax abatements. I think it's about corporate mismanagement.

Kookamooka 12 years, 4 months ago

Sounds like the living wage wouldn't be necessary if employers paid for the work they received.

The way I see it...Lawrence is courting the wrong businesses. They should be offering breaks and such to the small businesses so they can grow into the major corporations, and stay here. I think one of Lawrences finest traits as a town is the creative spirit and youthful energy of it's citizens. Why can't we capitalize on a wonderul children's museum to lure tourism, become the center for exquisite glass or ceramics in the midwest...offer the world the best pickled asparagus on the planet? I realize these all seem unrealistic...but what would the city be able to offer a small business to become a major corportation? Look at the Desis Fournir (sp?) furniture company that relocated from California to a small town outside of Hays! Which businesses in town would love to become major corporations if they were just offered a little incentive to grow, here in Lawrence? Yard Art anyone?

cowboy 12 years, 4 months ago

I think the entire abatement process should be tossed out. I am starting a new sales effort in Lawrence and have been in the doors of about half of Lawrence in the past few weeks. The one striking thing is that 90% of the businesses here are owned by a franchise or out of town owners.

Makes selling a real %$#$% but also it means all the profits of that business are not landing in Lawrence. Leaves a plethora of minimum wage jobs , 9$ an hour " manager" jobs and such.

If I were king the abatements would go only to locally owned and operated businesses . While we seem to have a very robust retail and service economy here in Lawrence the spoils are siphoned off elsewhere.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 12 years, 4 months ago

I agree, cowboy. The abatement swindle as currently structure needs to go away.

Are you a loser, macon?

Bubarubu 12 years, 4 months ago

Actually, badger brings up a good example in Austin. Local companies, like Dell, started there and grew up. There are dozens upon dozens of small companies in Austin who employ thousands of people. Outside companies were given huge tax abatements and incentive packages to move or expand there. Intel, as one prominent example, got a $10-15M incentive packages to build downtown. They started construction, then Intel decided not to complete the project, stopped work, and left the shell of a building standing there for 4 years. The building will now become a federal courthouse, three years after Intel announced they would sell the site. cowboy's got a point. Support (and grow!) local businesses with the sort of abatements other companies will cut and run for.

lunacydetector 12 years, 4 months ago

arminius, just as i figured that kankakee didn't have a living wage.

seroligicals practically didn't even get to enjoy any tax abatements, and i wonder if the parameters from the city were unachievable so they up and boogied.

i think that the city should be much more lax on these tax abatements, especially when the city is considering raising our taxes to pay for some land set aside for greenspace that will never generate any taxes anymore and forever.

if a company has a slow year, and they can't make the grade in hiring, that company should get a pass instead of being punished for not performing by having their costs increased when they are hurting. actually, there would be a much more friendly and booming industrial climate if these companies didn't have to pay any property taxes at all.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 12 years, 4 months ago

What the heck, let's just write em some big fat checks if they''l just consider maybe bringing some minimum wage jobs to town-- the state minimum wage, that is. What the heck do employees need money for, anyway? They can just stay at the homeless shelter, use a voucher check to send their kids to a good christian school where they'll learn that things will be just great as soon as they are dead.

lunacydetector 12 years, 4 months ago

the state minimum wage, bozo, only works for companies who do a minimal amount of business - for instance a sandwich shop in a small town of 1,500 who has $50,000 in sales per year - then the state minimum wage applies.

....and no, i am NOT saying write these companies some big fat checks - i'm saying don't charge them any property taxes at all unless it's on equipment, and bring in some necessary jobs into our community. this could never happen if the state said, "no" but there should be some proactive business recruiting going on. what exactly would be the difference if a select few recommended raising everyone's taxes so the greenies could get some tax free land and a select few affiliated business people could reap rewards from the taxpayers by having control of some taxpayer subsidized industrial land.

in other words, just offer ZERO taxes to manufacturing companies who want to build a plant. it would be far less costly on the taxpayers than raising everyone's taxes to buy up some ground all around town.

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