Medical-supplies company laying off 83 at Champaign plant

Medical-supplies company laying off 83 at Champaign plant

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CHAMPAIGN — Because of a shift in strategy, a medical-supplies company is laying off 83 employees at its Champaign plant.

The former Colwell Systems, a division of Minnesota-based Patterson Companies that made medical office supplies, will become a customer service center.

Patterson decided to demote office supplies from a business unit to a “complementary product line,” spokeswoman Bria Townshend said in a statement.

“The Champaign office will continue to support our customers as a customer service center and facilitate ordering office supplies,” she wrote. “Unfortunately, this business decision meant that we needed to resize the team at our Champaign location.”

The laid-off employees at the plant near the intersection of U.S. 150 and Duncan Road were provided a “generous severance package,” Townshend said, and the company “has been working closely with the State of Illinois for outplacement services.”

Patterson Companies makes supplies for dentists and veterinarians and has about 7,000 employees in North America and the United Kingdom, according to its website.

Colwell Systems makes medical office supplies and was founded in 1928 by Dr. John Colwell, a rural Champaign County physician, and his wife, Pauline. It was sold in 1985 to Minnesota-based Deluxe Corp., and then again in 1996 to Patterson.

Townshend declined to say how many people had been working at the Champaign location. When Colwell announced plans in 2003 to build a 150,000-square-foot plant at its current location, it said about 420 people would work there.

Patterson Companies disclosed the layoffs in Illinois’ monthly mass layoff reports.

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