Medtronic terminating up to 100 employees in Santa Rosa

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Medtronic, a medical device maker and one of Sonoma County’s largest employers, notified employees this week of layoffs that could affect as many as 100 employees at its Santa Rosa locations.

The company, whose Santa Rosa operations support the production of coronary balloons, stents and heart valves, said Friday the job cuts are necessary for the company to remain competitive. The company has about 1,100 employees at its two Santa Rosa campuses on Airport Boulevard and Fountaingrove Parkway.

The device maker said between 85 and 100 salaried and hourly employees from various departments, including research and development, global operations and marketing, would be affected. Some employees could be spared through “redeployment opportunities,” said Wendy Dougherty, a Medtronic spokeswoman.

Headquartered in Dublin, Ireland, Medtronic is one of the largest medical technology and services companies in the world.

Dougherty said the decision to eliminate positions always is a difficult one, but particularly at a time when the local community still is rebounding from the devastating October 2017 wildfires. The fires forced the evacuation and closure of Medtronic’s Fountaingrove campus for nearly a month.

“Any time roles are eliminated at Medtronic it is difficult for everyone, and we realize that any impact to the local Santa Rosa Medtronic community is difficult given the rebuilding efforts underway in Santa Rosa,” Dougherty said in an email.

Medtronic is handling the job eliminations “with the highest possible degree of compassion and sensitivity toward employees,” she said.

One Medtronic employee, who worked in the company’s cardiovascular integrated sciences department, said many employees were deeply saddened and upset by the news. The employee, who asked to remain anonymous so she doesn’t jeopardize future employment, said Medtronic notified employees via email on Wednesday to attend a meeting the following day.

She said that when two people from the human resources department walked into the meeting, it was clear job reductions were being implemented.

“There were people who were crying and really upset. People that have worked there for 20 years got laid off,” she said. “My whole department is gone. Certain people kept their jobs, but the department as a whole does not exist anymore.”

The company said the Santa Rosa campuses will remain the headquarters for two of Medtronic’s largest businesses within its coronary and vascular divisions — the coronary and structural heart and the aortic, peripheral and venous businesses.

The two businesses are part of Medtronic’s cardiac and vascular group, which posted annual revenue last year of $11.4 billion. That’s about 40% of Medtronic’s reported $30 billion in revenue in 2018.

The coronary and structural heart business generated annual revenue of about $3.5 billion, and aortic, peripheral and venous business had annual revenue of about $1.8 billion.

Santa Rosa Mayor Tom Schwedhelm, who was personally notified by Medtronic about the layoffs, said Friday he was sorry to hear about the job losses. Schwedhelm said Medtronic assured him the company would maintain its two businesses in Santa Rosa.

“Obviously, it’s unfortunate any time local residents loser their jobs,” he said. “But they’ve made it clear that Santa Rosa is still very critical to the success of Medtronic. ... They’re not leaving.”

Ben Stone, executive director of the Sonoma County Economic Development Board, said Medtronic has been crucial to the local economy and its local operations have been crucial in advancing medical technologies such as coronary stents. He said the local economy, as well as that of the Bay Area, is strong and the low unemployment rate between 2.5% and 3% clearly favors those affected by the layoffs.

“It’s unfortunate any time layoffs have to happen,” Stone said. “If you have to be unemployed or laid off, this is a good time to be looking (for a job).”

The Medtronic employee said she was given a generous severance package and that, at least, has relieved some of the pressure of quickly finding another job.

“I don’t feel like I have to apply for just anything,” she said.

You can reach Staff Writer Martin Espinoza at 707-521-5213 or martin.espinoza@pressdemocrat.com. On Twitter @renofish.

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