Declining business to move to Mexico to make room

Corning Inc. announced Wednesday plans to send a fading business to Mexico to make room for a newer product on the rise.

The change at the Big Flats plant will not result in any immediate job losses, company officials said.

Plans are to move production of glass beakers to Monterrey, Mexico, over the next two years, said Mark Beck, vice president and general manager of Life Sciences.


That will be replaced at the Big Flats plant by an expansion of Corning's Epic Systems - a method invented by the company to more accurately test pharmaceuticals.

Beck explained the market for glass beakers has been steadily declining for years while the demand for Epic has increased and shows promise for more future growth.

Corning expects Epic could produce potential profits of $100 million-$200 million by 2010 for the Life Sciences segment, Beck said.


Last year, Corning added its Epic System business to the Big Flats facility and opened an application center to train potential customers on the complex equipment.

The new technology can replace a current method used by pharmaceutical companies that requires labels - expensive radioactive or flourescent dyes - that can distort test results.

However, about 70 union-represented employees will be affected by the change, said Mike Walker, president of the United Steelworkers Local 1000.


“We are very disappointed that we are going to lose jobs some of our long-term employees have been doing for over 30 years,” he said.

Walker said plant workers were not surprised to hear the news Wednesday. Union employees previously worked with management in the late 1980s and early 1990s to keep the lab glass business in the Big Flats facility, he said.

“The employees decided Wednesday to end this with pride and class,” Walker said.


Also, although the business is leaving, there may not actually be a loss of any jobs.

A number of employees will be up for retirement over the next two years, said Dan Collins, director of Communi-cations for Corning.

Because Corning is taking two years to phase out the business, the rest of the workers will have time to be trained and transfer to other businesses within the company, Collins said.


Corning's yearly turnover rate more than compensates for the number of employees at the plant, he said.

Meanwhile, Corning is excited about the progress Epic has made in the market place, said Beck. New applications for the technology have already been discovered, which could positively impact the business, he said.

The plant has been fabricating glass lab equipment since 1958.