Hazelwood-based bioMérieux is one of five local companies that have established a micro enterprise partnership with Ranken Technical College. The other four include Emerson, Ehrhardt Tool and Machine, Hunter Engineering, and JM&A. The partnership between bioMèrieux and Ranken has been on-going for about 3 years, offering manufacturing internships to students and part-time employment for 20 hours of work each week.
Forty-five students have gone through this program since its inception. Nine students are currently employed part-time with plans to add up to two more students in the near future. Their responsibilities include the assembly and testing of high-tech medical electronic sub-components for two of the company’s product brands, the Vitek 2 and Bac-T Alert System, which are produced at the Hazelwood Plant.
bioMérieux decided to form this partnership with Ranken instead of outsourcing the work. “Forward thinking companies, like bioMérieux, are getting on board with this business model and reaping the benefits by having better trained employees for the 21st century workplace. Establishing these partnerships with a strong technical education curriculum can help keep and attract good manufacturing jobs in the St. Louis region, says Vince Holtmann, Faculty Project Manager – Education and Manufacturing Cooperative for Ranken Technical College.
In the 1980s when McDonnell Douglas (now known as Boeing) was heavily involved in NASA’s International Space Station program, it started developing microbiology diagnostic systems to use on different space missions. McDonnell later decided not to continue as an electronic medical device manufacturer and spun-off a separate company called Vitek Systems, Inc. It chose Hazelwood as its home base because of the close proximity to McDonnell Douglas. bioMérieux later acquired Vitek Systems, Inc., through a company merger.
As a French-owned company, bioMérieux has been a leader in the field of vitro diagnostics over the past 50 years. The company is present in more than 150 countries through 41 subsidiaries and a large network of distributors. In 2012, revenues reached €1,570 million with 87 percent of sales outside of France.