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BI Riverside plant to close in 2014

Vet medicine company hopes employees can be transferred to other sites

July 13, 2011
By BILL SHEA - Messenger staff writer , Messenger News

About 100 employees of Boehringer Ingelheim Vetmedica Inc. will have to get new jobs when the company's Riverside plant in Fort Dodge closes in 2014.

''Hopefully, the majority of our employees will be able to move over to one of our other facilities,'' company spokeswoman Cory Sullivan said Tuesday afternoon.

She said company managers recently decided to gradually remove production from the plant on East Riverside Drive. That decision came in the wake of a move by Pfizer Inc. to shift its work out of the plant as well. The manufacturing of Pfizer Inc. products accounts for about 90 percent of the work there, according to Sullivan.

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The Boehringer Ingelheim Vetmedica Inc. Riverside plant, shown here, is slated to close in 2014. The plant employs approximately 100 people.

At the same time the company is planning to wind down operations at the Riverside plant, it's preparing an expansion of its research capabilities at its main facility on Fifth Street Northwest. That effort will yield 58 new jobs and preserve 519 more.

The jobs at the Riverside plant were not included in any discussions with state and city officials about the expansion at the main plant, according to Dennis Plautz, the city's director of business affairs and community growth.

Plautz said company leaders had previously indicated that change could be coming to the Riverside plant.

''I think they were upfront,'' he said. ''This is consistent with everything we've been told from the beginning.''

The fact that Boehringer Ingelheim Vetmedica employees make Pfizer Inc. products is a result of the deal that brought the German company to Fort Dodge.

In 2009, Pfizer Inc. bought Wyeth, the parent company of Fort Dodge Animal Health. But before federal regulators would approve that deal, they required Pfizer to sell some of its veterinary products and capabilities. Boehringer Ingelheim Vetmedica then purchased many of the Fort Dodge Animal Health assets.

Pfizer, however, retained a series of non-sterile pharmaceuticals made in the Riverside plant.

Early this year, Pfizer sought bids from companies interested in making those items. Boehringer Ingelheim Vetmedica didn't win the contract, and Pfizer is now beginning to move the work elsewhere.

Sullivan said her company will also begin moving its operations out of the Riverside plant. The work will not move across town to the main plant, however.

The main plant and the Riverside plant turn out different items that can't be produced in the same place, according to Plautz.

The shift in production will take about two years.

''Our goal is that during that transition we will be able to transfer our employees to existing facilities,'' Sullivan said.

She said it is too early to know how many employees will be able to transfer.

The building, she said, will be sold.

Plautz said local officials will help the company market the building.

''It's a good facility,'' he said.

Contact Bill Shea at (515) 573-2141 or



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