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Clean Break With Past

Having settled into its new headquarters and manufacturing plant, Meissner Filtration Products Inc. is now ready to invest in new equipment for making filters. The Camarillo company will spend $14 million over the next five years primarily in equipment to make filters and single-use bio containers for the pharmaceutical industry. The company also expects to hire 100 more employees during that five-year period. In exchange, it will receive a $375,000 tax credit from the state through the California Competes program. President Christopher Meissner said that taking part in the program adds clarity for where the company is moving in the future. California Competes is aimed at companies in any industry or location that are prime targets to be lured to relocate outside the state. Meissner said he has been contacted by government agencies from other states but said he remains committed to staying. “I’m not one of those companies to say, ‘If you don’t do this, I am moving to Texas,’” Meissner said. “California is not perfect but the employees are in California and I’m committed to the employees.” Pharma filtration The company moved last year to its 176,000-square-foot building at 1001 Flynn Road. It has a smaller facility in Camarillo as well as a research center in San Luis Obispo. It employs about 135 workers at its three sites. The company makes filters used for straining out impurities in the drug-making process or for other industrial uses. Its bio-container products are used by pharmaceutical companies to make drugs. The plastic bags and associated components not only cost less but eliminate the expense and time of cleaning stainless steel equipment, which in turn can speed up drug production. John Fraser, a senior analyst with the city of Camarillo, alerted Meissner Filtration Products to the California Competes program and others that offer financial assistance for manufacturers. Over the past three to four years, Fraser has visited with some 40 different businesses. With Meissner investing in equipment and bringing in more employees, Fraser expects the company to become one of the city’s largest employers. “They may have the largest clean room in California,” Fraser said. “They are one of the three big-time performers in the U.S. in the filtration business; the other two are on the East Coast.” The Flynn building includes a 40,000-square-foot clean room where the filters and bio-containers are made. Fourteen air handlers, each the size of a small truck, are capable of cleaning a half-million cubic feet of air. The company is a spinoff of Meissner Manufacturing, a swimming pool filter manufacturer in Chatsworth that used to be run by Chris Meissner’s father and is still operated by other family members. “The year we launched our filter line in 1986, 13 other companies launched their own lines,” Meissner said. “Of those 13, most if not all did not make it.” Meissner Filtration Products’ main competitors are Pall Corp. of Port Washington, N.Y.; EMD Millipore, a Billerica, Mass., subsidiary of Merck KgaA; and Sartorius AG in Gottingen, Germany. Thermo Fisher Scientific in Waltham, Mass., and General Electric Co., in Schenectady, N.Y., also have filter divisions. Meissner is the only privately held company out of that group. Chris Meissner declined to disclose its revenue. Tax relief California Competes is administered by the Governor’s Office of Business and Economic Development, or GO-Biz. The state set aside $200 million in tax credits for the current fiscal year, an increase of $50 million from the prior year. Meissner Filtration Products was among five companies in Ventura County receiving the tax credits in the latest round announced Nov. 10. Sani-Tech West Inc. of Camarillo, a company that also makes bio containers for drug manufacturing, also received tax credits. The first expenditure of Meissner’s planned $14 million investment in its business over the next four years will be a $1 million machine for making small filters. Additional equipment purchases will occur gradually as the company brings more automation to its manufacturing process. As more machinery is used to make the filters, employees formerly doing that work by hand will be reassigned to other tasks that won’t be as repetitive, Chris Meissner said. “The work will become more interesting and enables us to compete globally with anyone,” he said. Some of the $14 million will go toward technological upgrades as well, such as expanding a blade server – a piece of computer gear used to instruct workers on the components needed to make a filter and track those parts through the manufacturing process. The company already has spent $750,000 to tighten computer and server security by isolating the manufacturing area and its computers from the equipment handling, administrative and office functions, Meissner said.

Mark Madler
Mark Madler
Mark R. Madler covers aviation & aerospace, manufacturing, technology, automotive & transportation, media & entertainment and the Antelope Valley. He joined the company in February 2006. Madler previously worked as a reporter for the Burbank Leader. Before that, he was a reporter for the City News Bureau of Chicago and several daily newspapers in the suburban Chicago area. He has a bachelor’s of science degree in journalism from the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign.
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