MilliporeSigma adding 160 jobs in Covid-fueled expansion
Production ramped up to aid treatment, vaccine development
MilliporeSigma is in the process of adding 160 jobs at its Jaffrey facility as the global life sciences company ramps up production of components used to develop potential Covid-19 treatments and vaccines.
The company began hiring in Jaffrey in June and will continue through the end of the year, said David Poggi, the plant’s director of operations. So far, MilliporeSigma has added about 80 new employees.
The job openings range from entry-level manufacturing positions to engineering, technician and leadership roles. By the end of the hiring push, the Jaffrey facility will employ more than 1,200 people and will operate 24/7, Poggi added. All of the roles the company is looking to fill are important, Poggi said, but MilliporeSigma is especially focused on adding manufacturing jobs.
“And we’re really thinking differently about these roles than we have in the past,” Poggi said. “Historically, we’ve looked for manufacturing experience, in some cases even regulated manufacturing experience. But given the scale of this ramp-up, we’re reconsidering that, and we’re looking for folks with a good work history — not necessarily in manufacturing — and folks that have the ability to learn and are curious to learn and are looking to expand their career over the next five years with us.”
For the job openings, MilliporeSigma will consider candidates with a wide range of experience, including restaurant, retail and/or previous manufacturing experience.
“First and foremost what we’re looking for is a strong work ethic, strong work history and the curiosity and ambition to grow with us,” Poggi said.
Surge in demand
The hiring process started slowly in June, Poggi said, when the federal government was subsidizing unemployment insurance as part of its coronavirus relief efforts, but has since accelerated.
“So, in many cases, it appeared that a lot of the folks that were unemployed were actually opting to stay home and wait things out on unemployment,” Poggi said. “We’ve seen a change in that over the course of the last month, if you will, where we see more and more people re-entering the job market, which is good to see.”
He added that he’s “hopeful that we’re going to be able to ramp up as planned. I wasn’t that hopeful a couple of months ago, when we were seeing a lot of folks kind of staying out of the hiring pool.”
The new round of hiring is necessary because MilliporeSigma has experienced a surge in demand for its products since the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic.
“Prior to the pandemic, we had a very high growth rate to begin with,” Poggi said. “As we entered the year, and the pandemic hit, our growth rate was compounded because of all of the efforts right now to develop and produce Covid-related treatments and therapies, which our products are used in the standard template for vaccine manufacturing.”
MilliporeSigma’s Jaffrey facility primarily makes filtration devices that are used to produce biopharmaceuticals, such as immunotherapies for cancer treatment. These sorts of products are also part of the standard process for making vaccines, Poggi said. The company’s customers are mainly pharmaceutical corporations, and MiliporeSigma is currently supplying more than 45 companies that are working to develop a Covid-19 vaccine, spokeswoman Karen Tiano said.
MilliporeSigma is part of the German company Merck KGaA and has U.S. corporate offices in Burlington, Mass., and St. Louis, Mo. The company employs more than 22,000 people worldwide. MiliporeSigma’s Jaffrey facility at 11 Prescott Road opened in 1972.
The hiring ramp-up comes as the Jaffrey facility is physically expanding too. The company is adding additional lab and manufacturing space, including a 24,200-square-foot, single-story addition and a separate 11,600-square-foot two-story building. The Jaffrey Planning Board approved plans for the expansion in June 2019, and the project should be complete within the next 18 months, Poggi said.
The addition of more space and more employees go hand-in-hand, he added.
“They’re all part of our growth strategy to supply the products required to support the effort for COVID vaccine and therapies,” Poggi said.
The hiring push and physical expansion at MilliporeSigma, one of the area’s largest employers, also provide a boon to the local economy, according to Matt McCarthy, president of the Jaffrey Chamber of Commerce.
“Obviously, adding jobs during the pandemic, when unemployment is at the highest rate that we’ve seen in the past decade, is a huge advantage for our area, and crucial to our economy,” McCarthy said. “So it’s nothing but a benefit for the local area.”
McCarthy added that MilliporeSigma’s work in Jaffrey should make the entire community proud of its role in combatting the Covid-19 pandemic.
“We’re fortunate that not only do they create products that assist in medical applications for the current pandemic,” he said, “but that we are proud that our community can help fill the needs of those jobs that are making that possible.”
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