Medical manufacturing will move to Mexico; economic development team reaches out to place 170 ElectroChem Solutions Inc. workers with new firms

An estimated 170 Beaverton employees of ElectroChem Solutions Inc. will lose their jobs as the subsidiary of Greatbatch Inc. moves its portable medical manufacturing operations to Mexico during the next 18 months.

The Frisco, Texas-based company on Wednesday announced a plan to transfer portable medical manufacturing currently performed at 13955 S.W. Millikan Way in Beaverton to a new facility in Tijuana, Mexico, by the end of 2015. The new facility is located near the company’s current production center in Tijuana that was established in 2005.

“This move will allow us to leverage our global footprint and investments we made down there over the past 10 years,” said Christopher Knospe, director of global communications and government relations for Greatbatch.

Other battery products for high-end niche applications in the energy, military and environmental markets currently manufactured in Beaverton that do not serve the portable medical market will be transferred to the company’s Raynham, Mass., facility.

The Beaverton operation, formerly Micro Power Electronics, was acquired by Greatbatch in late 2011. At that time, the Beaverton facility had 275 employees.

The facility now employs 170 manufacturing associates as well as 53 employees working in research and development, sales and marketing, Knospe said. Those 53 employees will remain in the leased Beaverton space until a new site is identified and the lease expires in late 2016.

Workers are primary concern

The closure news began circulating around Beaverton at a Westside Economic Alliance gathering on Wednesday morning. The city also released a statement from Mayor Denny Doyle in which he expressed his disappointment in losing the local operation.

“I am deeply saddened to learn about Greatbatch’s decision to close their Beaverton operations,” Doyle said. “This move affects 170 employees and their families. Our primary concern at this time is to work closely with Worksource Oregon and other partners to assist the employees in their transition over the next 18 months.”

Knospe said the company will provide its associates with a comprehensive package of services, including placement assistance and career counseling, assisting their transition into new roles with other organizations.

“We will work closely with our Oregon outplacement agency, Career Partners International, to help impacted associates over the 18-month transition,” added J. Michael Druding, executive director of Beaverton operations for Greatbatch. “We have also reached out to local officials and WorkSource Oregon for their assistance.”

In June 2013, Greatbatch announced the realignment of its operating structure to move toward a single organization rather than also operate under the ElectroChem Solutions brand. Now all operations will be under the Greatbatch umbrella.

“This initiative provides Greatbatch with increased capacity and capability making us more competitive to capture market share and — most importantly — best serve our customers for the long term,” said Andrew Holman, executive vice president of global sales and marketing for Greatbatch.

The company develops and manufactures medical device technologies for the cardiac, neuromodulation, vascular and orthopaedic markets; and batteries for high-end niche applications in the portable medical, energy, military and environmental markets.

Reaching out

As part of an effort to help employees affected by the company’s decision, the city’s economic development team has begun to work with Worksource Oregon and other community partners to aid in the transition.

In an email Randy Ealy, the city’s chief administrative officer, sent to members of the City Council, he outlined what that assistance might look like.

“Medical device manufacturing is one of our clusters in our economic development team’s target market efforts,” Ealy wrote. “Beaverton has over 127 scientific and medical instrument manufacturing companies with over 1,600 employees.

“In addition, we have 600 companies statewide in the bioscience arena with robust workforce programs in the region, including the recently approved Applied STEM Worker Training Pilot Program, that is available to assist our affected employees to find new employment.”

He informed the council that he met with members of the team, including Alma Flores, Beaverton’s economic development manager, and asked them to reach out to the city’s bioscience companies and inform them that highly-skilled workers will soon be seeking new employment opportunities.

“We will be monitoring this cluster closely and will keep you apprised if there are additional steps our economic development team thinks we should be taking to offer support at this time,” Ealy told the council.

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