Staff at the BASF research testing station north of Estherville learned this week the station will be closing April 1. The closing will affect four full-time, eight part-time and as many as 50 temporary summer workers.
Station manager Dan Harvey, who has worked at the site since 1980 when he was 15 and the station was owned by Golden Harvest and later Syngenta, said the station has had up to 65 workers. "Even the seasonal workers were getting $10 an hour," Harvey said of summer workers - many high-school or college students - who did hand-pollination, earning up to $1,500 in a summer.
Harvey said 40-50 employees who received their notices will compete for five to six slots in Ames. A total of 66 received their notice companywide, and 41 positions will be totally eliminated. Besides Ames, the only other locations BASF will keep open are in North Carolina and Hawaii, Harvey said.
Harvey said BASF had been looking for another seed partner, which it thought it had found with Nutridense, but the deal fell through.
The timing didn't come at a very good time at Estherville where a $435,000 machine shed had been finished just this past September, Harvey said. "We've got millions of dollars worth of equipment here," he explained.
Harvey said it was thought that restructuring was about three to five years off.
"No one thought it would be pull the plug in two months," he said.
Harvey said employees are getting severance packages and that a steady stream of emails has been coming in about position openings at other companies.