Manufacturing plant in Gulfport to expand and hire 200 more work - - The News for South Mississippi

Manufacturing plant in Gulfport to expand and hire 200 more workers

Geri-Care Pharmaceuticals is expanding its Gulfport plant. (Photo source: WLOX News) Geri-Care Pharmaceuticals is expanding its Gulfport plant. (Photo source: WLOX News)

Hundreds of jobs are coming to Gulfport as a pharmaceutical company prepares to take production at its Gulfport plant to new heights. New York based Geri-Care Pharmaceuticals is the largest manufacturer of liquid antacids in the world. One of the company's plants is in Gulfport. On Tuesday, Geri-Care broke ground on an expansion of that plant for what officials said is a plan to prove to the world the high value of American made products.

Walmart's Equate brand liquid antacid is one of dozens of products manufactured and packaged by workers at Geri-Care Pharmaceuticals. Geri-Care officials said when they bought the Gulfport plant five years ago the company operating it was on the verge of shutting down.

"They gave us 60 days notice that they were closing their doors. They gave us the decision to either purchase the facility or they're closing their doors and they're laying off over a 100 employees," said Geri-Care Pharmaceuticals CEO Eli Shindler. "I came down to Gulfport to look at the plant and was very impressed by the people here, by the hospitality and the integrity of the workers. We did our due diligence and we decided to buy the plant." 

Five years later business is booming.

Shindler said, "Our staff here told us that we were running out of room. Our inventory. Our production. Our capabilities. The demand was outweighing the space that we had and we had to do something."

The company acquired a dilapidated Hurricane Katrina damaged building on an adjacent property it will turn into manufacturing space. Officials said increased production means the need for more employees. Shindler said he never forgets the company's humble beginning.

"God blessed us 25 years ago. We opened up a pharmaceutical business literally from scratch we built it," said Shindler. "We want to give back, and we want to help other people as well. If we could hire 100, 200 new people that's our dream. Help people. Help their families. Help build America."

Governor Phil Bryant, executives from other pharmaceutical companies, and vendors came to help Geri-Care celebrate during its groundbreaking ceremony. Walmart officials said two-thirds of what they sell is American made.

"Geri-Care manufactures our Equate brand liquid antacids and they have done so for years," said Michelle Gloeckler Walmart Executive Vice President of U.S. Manufacturing. "I've been through the factory. I've seen it. They have great quality controls. Highly efficient at what they do. So they can make it at a great speed, but not sacrifice any of the quality."

Gloeckler said buying closer to home helps Walmart keep its pledge to customers for lower prices.

"It's about transportation costs. It's about lead time," said Gloeckler. "It's about continuous improvement. When the factory is right here local you can make continuous improvements in your efficiency and your line runs."

"We plan on building a pharmaceutical building here. A manufacturing facility for pharmaceuticals which we hope to be supplying the entire nation with," said Shindler. "We see Walmart, CVS, Walgreens, Rite Aid. All the major retailers are customers of ours, and we want to give the American people a high quality product."

Geri-Care Pharmaceuticals produces more than 200 products at its New York plant and with the expansion products are expected to come on line in Gulfport.

"In this plant we are producing up to 30 or 40 different products,"said Shindler. "With the new expansion it's unlimited. We have the expertise. We have the laboratory. We have the people. We have the know how, and we're looking to keep on expanding down here. We reach out to all our loyal customers and our vendor partners. Help us to maximize this new building and give jobs to the local economy. Let us show the world that manufacturing belongs in America."   

Geri-Care Pharmaceuticals is in the process of getting the permits it needs to start the renovation. Officials expect work to start in a few months.

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