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Chamber of Commerce welcomes Akrimax to the North Country

PLATTSBURGH - Hundreds of workers in the village of Rouses Point were once on the brink of losing their jobs, though now it appears they no longer have to worry about that fate. Joseph J. Krivulka, chairman of the board of directors and co-founder of Akrimax Pharmaceuticals, said the more than 800 jobs at the Wyeth Pharmaceuticals manufacturing facility aren't in jeopardy, but rather the facility will likely see an increase in jobs. "The reason for that is we believe we can fill the facility," Mr. Krivulka said at an economic development forum hosted by the Plattsburgh-North Country Chamber of Commerce March 13. "Our goal is to have full employment or to have increased employment in that facility over the next two years to three years." In January, Akrimax acquired the majority of the Wyeth property in the village, including the 950,000-square-foot facility, in a sale which totaled more than $7.86 million. The acquisition also included only a certain amount of equipment, said Mr. Krivulka, which allowed for Wyeth to ensure the facility is not shut down while they continue their production. Under an agreement between Wyeth and Akrimax officials, Wyeth will continue to operate the facility and be the employer of record until the transition of employment to Akrimax is complete. Originally slated for 2009, Mr. Krivulka said that could be extended to 2011, allowing Akrimax a "longer runway to bring new products into the area," which the company has already started. Regardless of when the transition takes place, Mr. Krivulka reaffirmed it will be "seamless" and that the existing workforce will be utilized to develop, manufacture and distribute its products and those from third-party contracts. Akrimax has already begun to move into the facility, working along side Wyeth employees who continue manufacturing its brand of products. Akrimax employees will be expected to live up to basic core values company leaders consider to be the hallmark of a valuable employee - high integrity, dedication, creativity, professionalism and respect for themselves and other people, said Mr. Krivulka. Mr. Krivulka said there will be no change in benefits for the employees, other than they won't receive Wyeth stock options. Akrimax will, at least to start, be a private company and not be publicly traded, he added. In addition to their commitment to keeping Wyeth workers employed, Akrimax also plans to continue relationships with those Wyeth has done business with in the past, said Mr. Krivulka. The company, he said, will also focus on being actively involved with the educational community. When asked by a faculty member of Clinton Community College if the company would be interested in collaborating with the college, Mr. Krivulka replied, "We're probably going to be knocking your door down pretty soon." Partnerships with such institutions of higher learning are something Mr. Krivulka said he considers beneficial for both the institutions and Akrimax employees. "It's very important to have a workforce that gets developed and trained internally," said Mr. Krivulka. "We need to build relationships with the educational community to make sure we train our people and advance their training as not only they wish to do, but as we need to fill jobs in the facility." The Rouses Point Wyeth facility was chosen by Akrimax for its already established workforce and its impeccable record, said Mr. Krivulka. In its more than 70-year history, the facility has had no reported problems with the Food and Drug Administration or other regulatory agencies, which is a remarkable accomplishment, he said. "This facility is the gem inside of the Wyeth group," said Mr. Krivulka. "They run a clean facility, they run a well-managed facility and we're dedicated to making this facility bigger than it is. Hopefully, in the 78 acres that we have up there, we'll be able to add as necessary and to fill the capacity and bring it back to the glory that it once had." "We understood what we have and Joe understood this," said chamber of commerce president Garry F. Douglas. "What we have is the workforce. It was never about the plant or the location. There's lots of closed or closing plants across the country ... We believed someone would value and want that workforce and that's exactly what happened." Akrimax, which was formed late last year, saw its first month of sales gross $10.9 million, said Mr. Krivulka. The company is currently focusing on acquiring patents for pharmaceuticals dedicated to the treatment of metabolic syndrome, a condition which is characterized by diabetes, obesity, high blood pressure and high cholesterol. Aside from Mr. Krivulka, the Akrimax executive team consists of Leonard L. Mazur, co-founder and board of directors vice chairman; Alan L. Rubino, president; Keith Rotenburg, vice president of regulatory affairs and operations; Christopher K. Campbell, vice president of third-party logistics; and Timothy Soule, vice president of government affairs.

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