Senate President Stephen Sweeney
Deputy Speaker John Burzichelli
Assemblyman Adam Taliaferro

South Jersey Times — A state-of-the-art facility was officially opened Wednesday at the Siegfried-USA plant, and the company’s CEO, Rudolf Hanko, said it represented the company’s commitment to the township and South Jersey.

Siegfried is an international pharmaceutical production company headquartered in Zofigen, Switzerland. At the plant located off of Industrial Park Road, they manufacture the compounds that to go on to become consumer medicines.

“We’re making pharmaceutical active ingredients,” Associate Director of Manufacturing Sam Midili said. “There is no tabulation here… We make the ingredients that go into the pill.”

The plant’s 184 employees use different chemical processes to produce the active ingredients, some as long as 19 steps long, Midili said. The new building will be used as the final step before the product is ready to go to Siegfried’s customers.

It’s known as a spray drying system, which is used to separate the active ingredients from a solvent, and Midili said it’s a big step for the company.

“We have many projects lining up behind this one,” he said. “Knew it was going to bring new business… It’s just growing the company, and ultimately it’s going to result in more jobs.”

The spray drying process takes up a four-story building, one of the largest at Siegfried’s Pennsville facility. The solution containing the active ingredient is sprayed into a massive cylinder along with a hot gas. As it travels down the length of the tower, the liquid evaporates and all that’s left is a dry powder.

Company officials said it is a much more efficient process than the one they previously used, and it’s greener. The solvent that’s evaporated is recycled after it’s separated and reused in another batch.

It’s unclear exactly how many people will be hired to work at the new building, but officials from Siegfried said it could offer them more opportunities to expand at the site.

“The expansion of Siegfried is an important milestone,” company chairman Andreas Casutt said. “Before the construction was complete we already secured several key products that offered potential for significant growth.”

Hanko said the expansion was not only an indicator of their commitment to being a leader in the pharmaceutical business, but to their presence in New Jersey.

However, he said that even while they celebrate the success of the expansion, there are several things standing in their way of growing in the United States.

One is energy prices. Hanko said energy costs about three times as much in New Jersey as it does in Switzerland.

Hanko said there is almost a complete absence of “non-academic apprenticeships” in the United States, and that places a burden on any employer in the manufacturing industry.

“I’m convinced that our spray dry project sets the agenda for even more success,” he said. “Our celebration today shall convey the message that we believe that mixed bag of factors can return to the positive.”

State Senate President Steve Sweeney was in attendance for the ribbon cutting, and said they working on improving both areas.

“These aren’t easy times,” he said. “Capital dollars are competitive around the world. When you see the dollars invested here… that means they’re betting on us that we can do better. … We can do better.

“When we fix our problems, we expect more jobs.”