Reduced demand for a COVID-19 vaccine produced by Grand River Aseptic Manufacturing Inc. has caused the company to “restructure” staff.
In response to an inquiry from MiBiz, representatives for the Grand Rapids contract pharmaceutical manufacturer confirmed staff changes, although they declined to disclose whether that included layoffs or the number of positions involved.
Grand River Aseptic’s statement issued through the investor and public relations firm Lambert & Co. attributed the move to lower vaccine demand.
Majority-owned by Maryland-based private equity firm Arlington Capital Partners, Grand River Aseptic Manufacturing in 2020 landed a one-year contract under the federal government’s Operation Warp Speed initiative to produce a COVID-19 vaccine.
Grand River Aseptic at that time employed about 210 people at facilities in Grand Rapids. President and CEO Tom Ross said the company needed to hire 75 to 100 new employees within a few months.
As well, Grand River Aseptic Manufacturing secured a contract during the pandemic to finish and fill Johnson & Johnson’s single-dose COVID-19 vaccine.
Grand River Aseptic Manufacturing “hired significantly beginning in August 2020 to support Operation Warp Speed and manufacturing a COVID-19 vaccine,” according to the company’s statement.
Staff “quickly rose to the challenge of battling a pandemic and produced outstanding results that saved lives around the world,” according to the statement, which noted recent expansion plans are separate from vaccine production and are unaffected.
“Now, market demand for COVID vaccinations on a global scale have drastically decreased, and as a result, the need to manufacture has decreased. These factors resulted in GRAM’s decision to restructure a portion of those additional people who GRAM hired during the COVID emergency,” according to the company. “No other elements of GRAM are affected, and current expansions, partnerships, and activities are unchanged. GRAM looks forward to a bright future.”
In April, Ross told MiBiz that the company employed more than 400 people and that revenues were “substantially above” $100 million. His comments followed an announcement on a new $120 million investment by the federal government that would fund a large share of the cost for Grand River Aseptic’s latest $160 million expansion.
The company this spring also received the 2022 Outstanding Growth Award from the Association for Corporate Growth West Michigan after recording an annual growth rate of 279 percent over three years.
Meanwhile, Johnson & Johnson executives told brokerage analysts in April that J&J’s COVID-19 vaccine was “challenged by global supply surplus and vaccine hesitancy in developing markets.” J&J suspended guidance on vaccine sales, which in the first quarter totaled $457 million, according to the corporation’s earnings report.
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