Business

Monday, Jul 22 2013 05:28 PM

Arvin's Salter Labs sending last manufacturing jobs across Mexican border

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    By Alex Horvath / The Californian

    Arvin pop 16,675.

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BY JOHN COX Californian staff writer jcox@bakersfield.com

Arvin-based Salter Labs is moving the last of its manufacturing jobs in the city to northern Mexico, where the privately held medical devices company already employs more than 800 people at a plant it opened 25 years ago.

The move is directly related to the company's recent announcement to the state Employment Development Department that it plans to lay off 87 people by year's end. All are being offered severance pay and job placement help, Salter Labs' Human Resources Director Tatiana Repelin said Monday.

"We'd love to help them transition to new opportunities," Repelin said. She added that some of the employees being let go have been offered positions at the Mexican plant in Ciudad Juarez, Chihuahua.

All but about seven of the people being laid off make specialty products. The non-manufacturing jobs are in the areas of corporate quality and research and development; these positions are being moved to Carlsbad, where Repelin said the company is opening a technology center "to be closer to the medical device industry."

Repelin said the company plans to keep its headquarters, a warehouse and 44 employees at its Arvin headquarters, opened 37 years ago at 100 W. Sycamore Road. Salter Labs also has operations in El Paso, Texas; Lake Forest, Ill.; and in Kentucky.

The company makes respiratory products ranging from disposable nebulizers and nasal oxygen cannula to snore sensors.

Arvin City Manager Tim Chapa said the company's general manager notified him of the move in a courtesy phone call before even the state was informed. He said that only about 30 of the employees live in Arvin.

There was little the city could do to keep the jobs local, Chapa said.

"We don't have the incentives," he said. "We don't have the ability to affect their business decision with respect to manufacturing."

Chapa noted that as Salter Labs cuts back, two companies are planning to move into Arvin.

Denver-based DaVita Inc. is opening a 12-employee dialysis center at the northwest corner of Bear Mountain Boulevard and Campus Drive, the city manager said.

Separately, Missouri-based O'Reilly Auto Parts plans to open a store at the southwest corner of Bear Mountain Boulevard and Walnut Drive, Chapa said.

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