The packaging and labeling of Boehringer Ingelheim Vetmedica Inc. products in Fort Dodge will end in mid-2014 in a move that will eliminate 45 local jobs, company officials announced Tuesday.
The work is being shifted to St. Joseph, Mo., where the company also has operations
The change will coincide with the closure of the company's facility on Riverside Drive, which was announced last year.
Albrecht Kissel, the president and chief executive officer of the company's operations in the United States, announced the transfer to company employees during two meetings Tuesday. Kissel also briefed city leaders on the plan.
''Obviously, this is very hard news for our impacted employees and all of our other employees,'' said Rene Ward, the company's associate director of communications and public relations. ''It's not a reflection in any way, shape or form on their abilities or performance. This is strictly a business decision.''
Ward said the company will do ''everything in our power'' to help the displaced workers find other positions within Boehringer Ingelheim Vetmedica.
Employees who lose their jobs will have the opportunity to train for new jobs at Iowa Central Community College, according to college President Dan Kinney.
''We're going to continue to work with the people and get them retrained so they can stay in this area,'' he said ''We'll sit down and work with each and every one of them.''
Although the packaging and labeling work is being moved, the Fort Dodge facilities will remain a crucial component of the company, according to Ward.
''This operation in Fort Dodge is absolutely vital to the success of our business,'' she said.
Ward said all of the company's packaging and labeling work in the United States will be consolidated into a new 260,000-square-foot building in St. Joseph. The consolidation, she said, will increase operational efficiencies and reduce the time it takes to get products to customers.
''It needed to happen,'' she said.
The company will begin scaling back the packaging and labeling work in Fort Dodge in April or May of 2014, she added.
Local officials have been working with company executives since January in a bid to keep the work in Fort Dodge, according to Dennis Plautz, the chief executive officer of the Greater Fort Dodge Growth Alliance. He said Kissel told him Tuesday that additional local incentives would not have altered the decision to consolidate in St. Joseph.
The local packaging and labeling work is done in the Riverside plant, which was slated to close in 2014 even before Tuesday's announcement. The company is shuttering the plant because it lost a contract to produce non-sterile pharmaceuticals for Pfizer Inc. That work accounted for about 90 percent of the production in the plant.
The Riverside property is already for sale.
Boehringer Ingelheim Vetmedica is preparing an expansion of its research capabilities at its main campus on Fifth Street Northwest that will create 78 new jobs and preserve 519 more.
Jobs at the Riverfront plant were not part of the discussions about expansion at the main facility, according to Plautz.
''This is consistent and does not contradict anything they have said,'' he said.