KSI workers return to Lewes plant

SPI Pharma workers back on the job after 12-year absence
Representatives from Kent-Sussx Iindustries join their workers and other representatives from SPI Pharma to celebrate the return of the KSI workers to their former positions. Shown are (l-r) Sue Grenier and Constance Fuller of KSI; SPI Pharma maintenance workers Victor Street and Roger Edwards; Georgeann Touchton, SPI Pharma coordinator; Mike Maull, SPI Pharma warehouse manager; David King, KSI production crew member; David Weathersby, KSI crew supervisor and Herrman Paynter, KSI production crew member. BY MOLLY MACMILLAN
November 29, 2012

A job well done speaks for itself, but sometimes it takes a while for those words to be heard.

When the former Lewes-based pharmaceutical company Barcroft changed hands to become SPI Pharma, some procedural changes meant the company eliminated a system of barrels that contained production materials, and the jobs associated with cleaning those barrels.

Kent-Sussex Industries production crew members David King and Herrman Paynter were responsible for for cleaning the barrels, completing the task with pride and efficiency for years until their jobs were eliminated.

The disabled workers found jobs working for another company in Millsboro for nearly 12 years, allowing them to live independently and to be self-sufficient.

Then the second employer closed its doors last summer, and the workers were again faced with layoffs.

In a stroke of luck, after two months of unemployment, SPI Pharma decided to reinstate the old production methods, including the barrel system, which would now require a staff to be sure they were properly cleaned after being filled with magnesium for transport.

SPI Pharma Human Resources representative Tom Schmidt said staff members who had been with the company for some time remembered King and Paynter from the 1990s and knew that if they were free, the KSI workers always got the job done.

“It just so happened that the work came back,” Schmidt said. “They were here before, and they did a great job, and the work came back so we contacted them. It was all sort of fortuitous.”

For David King, who began working with KSI at Barcroft in the 1980s, returning to the facility in Lewes is a nice opportunity to catch up with friends and get back to work at a job he likes.

“It’s good to see all the old friends,” King said. “I like getting more stuff done because I like helping out.”

SPI Pharma purchasing coordinator Georgeann Touchton said even over all the years when their jobs had been eliminated, the KSI workers stayed in contact with their friends at SPI, and visits were always welcome from their former coworkers.

“We didn’t forget them, and they never forgot us either,” Touchton said. “They kept in contact with us, and when you talk about performers, these guys were the greatest. These guys were just like our brothers and sisters; they just fit in with us.

Other staff at SPI, such as maintenance team leader Roger Edwards, attested to the value of their return as well.

“When the guys made the decision to bring these guys back to the employment, we were just as happy as they were,” Edwards said. “It was just a pleasure to work around them because they really did their job.”