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275 to lose jobs as Medline closes Pinellas Park plant

PINELLAS PARK — A health care products manufacturer is closing its local plant and laying off 275 workers, according to a company spokesman.

Pinellas Park Mayor Bill Mischler found out a week or two ago when Medline Industries plant manager Tron Armstrong called him to say he would be telling the employees the bad news. Then, on June 4, the company sent a letter to the city giving official notification of the plant closing and layoffs.

Company spokesman Jerreau Beaudoin blamed the downturn in the economy for the shutdown of the Pinellas Park plant, where Medline makes surgical procedure trays.

"We're like every other health care company right now," Beaudoin said.

Mischler called it "a tremendous loss to our economy in Pinellas Park. It's a sign of the times."

Mischler said Armstrong told him that while the news was tough to deliver, the announcement at the plant went smoothly. Armstrong had worked with some of the employees for 25 years, the mayor said.

"I'm sure it was a personal blow to him," Mischler said.

Mischler added that not only employees suffer when layoffs occur — they affect families and everyone else as the loss to the economy ripples outward.

"That's the hard part to me," he said. "Where are these people finding jobs?"

Layoffs will begin Aug. 6 and end Oct. 15. The layoffs include all workers at the plant, from line personnel through engineers, receptionists and administrative employees.

Medline, based in Mundelein, Ill., is the nation's largest privately held manufacturer and distributor of health care products, according to the company website. It distributes more than 100,000 health care items to hospitals, extended-care facilities, surgery centers, home care dealers and agencies. The company says that over the past five years, Medline has been the fastest growing distributor of medical and surgical supplies in the United States, serving as the primary distributor to more than 450 major hospitals and health care facilities.

It has factories in the United States and Mexico. Earlier this year, according to the website, Deputy Prime Minister of Zimbabwe Arthur Mutambara visited the company to discuss opportunities for the company to distribute or manufacture its medical supplies in that African nation.

Beaudoin said the company would absorb the production of the Pinellas Park plant into other facilities to make the company more efficient.

Medline bought the Pinellas Park property, at 4750 118th Ave. N, in 2003 from Maxxim Medical Group, which had declared bankruptcy, for about $4.07 million. The 9-acre property, with a 109,000-square-foot building, is valued at about $5 million today, according to the Pinellas County Property Appraiser.

Pinellas Park records do not show that any incentives were given to Medline to encourage the company to locate in the city.

Anne Lindberg can be reached at alindberg@tampabay.com or (727) 893-8450.

275 to lose jobs as Medline closes Pinellas Park plant 06/11/10 [Last modified: Friday, June 11, 2010 10:39pm]
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