Monday, July 9, 2012

C&EN: Former Wyeth site leased by Dow

From this week's C&EN, an interesting story on the former Wyeth site at Collegeville, PA that was closed by Pfizer by Alex Tullo:
Dow Chemical has agreed to lease a College­ville, Pa., R&D facility owned, and once operated, by Pfizer. Some 800 researchers will begin the move from Dow’s current site in Spring House, Pa., in the first quarter of 2013. The labs are about 17 miles apart in Montgomery County. Pfizer ended research operations at Collegeville in 2010 as part of an R&D consolidation after its 2009 purchase of Wyeth. That year, the company laid off 450 workers in Collegeville, although the firm’s specialty care unit is still based there. 
Dow, meanwhile, acquired the Spring House facility in 2009 when it purchased Rohm and Haas, which had opened the labs in 1963. Since the acquisition, the facility has started to support Dow businesses such as performance plastics and Dow AgroSciences. Dow says the 750,000-sq-ft College­ville facility offers a substantial increase in lab and pilot-plant space that can better accommodate future growth in research operations. “Dow did a comprehensive feasibility study and found it would be cost-prohibitive to upgrade the Spring House facility rather than customize Collegeville,” a Dow spokeswoman tells C&EN.
Is this a harbinger of a shift away from the glamour days of pharma back to chemical manufacturing? One wonders if new PhDs would rather not work in pharma, these days. 

3 comments:

  1. I am pleasantly surprised. Back when Dow bought Rohm&Haas I thought they would just shut it down, leaving many of my friends unemployed. It seems less and less likely and I am happy for them.

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  2. A lot of Spring House folks used to work at the Rohm & Haas plant in Bristol, PA, and live in the Trenton, NJ area. Having your commute go from a few minutes to 17 miles will be bad enough for the Spring House-area folks, but the Trenton-area folks already have an hour commute to Spring House, and Collegeville is another 17 miles away. I suspect this is a way to get people to quit without having to pay severance.

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  3. The key phrase is:
    “Dow did a comprehensive feasibility study and found it would be cost-prohibitive to upgrade the Spring House facility rather than customize Collegeville”

    What this really means is: Spring House is falling apart and it would cost >$300 million dollars to bring it up to company standards. Moving to Collegeville is actually the low-cost solution. All of the infrastructure at Spring House is literally falling apart from being 10+ years past its service lifetime. Things have already started getting ugly.

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