Written by The Business Journal Staff
A subsidiary of electronics contract manufacturer Jabil Circuit (JBL), based in St. Petersburg, Florida, has purchased the Porterville assets of Beckman Coulter, a California firm. The purchase will mean Beckman’s circuit board plant in Porterville will close in a phased sequence over the next two years as all operations are moved to Malaysia.
Porterville City Manager John Lollis got the bad news March 9 that the longtime employer will shut down, leaving 145 workers out of a job.The company has been part of Porterville since 1965 and is considered the town’s oldest industry. At one time it employed more than 500.
The subsidiary — called Nypro, a Jabil Company — bought everything but the 100,000 square-foot plant on 35 acres that “we hope can attract a new employer in time,” Lollis said.
Lollis said city officials talked to represenatives of the new company to see if there was any possibility to retain the business there, but with no luck.
The company held a teleconference with employees last week. Lollis said the parent company does have some facilities in the U.S., and there is a chance some who want to transfer could find jobs and not have to consider transferring to Malaysia.
Beckman’s history in town includes contamination from the manufacturing process that spread a giant plume throughout Portervile’s groundwater in the 1980s, a problem that is largely behind the community now. The Environmental Protection Aagency has already given the cleanup a final OK with the exception of one well that is expected to be clear of any problem by the time the property is marketed.
Ironically, the spreading plume affected rural wells in the area not yet in the city, and had the effect of spurring annexation, growing Porterville to get people on the city water system. Water issues in rural East Porterville today are having the same effect.