Bausch & Lomb: Making Crucial Medications and Building Careers for the Long Term

Bausch & Lomb is an international company that specializes in eye health. One of the world’s largest suppliers of contact lenses, lens care products, and pharmaceuticals, among other products, Bausch & Lomb has been a steadfast presence in the Tampa area for three decades.

Bausch & Lomb’s Tampa location is the company’s only pharmaceutical plant in the United States. The facility specializes in manufacturing prescription and over-the-counter ophthalmic medications. Those products are distributed to more than 40 countries around the world.

Ken Patten, manufacturing director, and Dora Arroyo, senior manager for human resources, shared some of what makes Bausch & Lomb’s Tampa-area operation so appealing to the people who work there.

Why is your organization a great place to work?

Patten: The day I wake up and say, “I don't want to come to work,” is the day I'll update my resume. And I haven't had that day in 27 years here. Have I had difficult days? Sure. But I've never gotten to the point where I said I don't want to be involved in what we do here as a business. We are part of the national health care system, and we are relied upon as a business to develop and manufacture products that benefit people's lives and help restore their vision, which is scientifically proven to be our most important sense. People rely on what we do on a day-to-day basis in order to live their lives to their fullest. I think that's the true value of what we do here.

What types of job opportunities are available?

Patten: We have what I'll call three major departments. We have the manufacturing group, which encompasses our sterilization prep team, compounding, filling, packaging, and automation. And we also have our quality assurance group that includes quality control chemistry, quality control microbiology, manufacturing quality assurance, and incoming quality assurance. And then we have our engineering group, and they cover facilities, utilities, maintenance, validation, calibration, and project management. So there are a multitude of opportunities here, all the way from the beginning science – chemistry and microbiology – through the distribution and manufacturing of our products to project management and product development.

Are there skills or backgrounds that you have a particularly high need for right now?

Patten: As a manufacturing site, we're always in need of people with manufacturing backgrounds. That could mean anything from someone with a good work ethic who wants to come in and learn our business to individuals with postgraduate degrees or vocational degrees in electromechanics. We also have individuals on the science side who need doctorates for their positions. So we pretty much have a full gamut of positions available primarily within our quality assurance group and within our manufacturing group.

What makes a job candidate stand out to you?

Patten: One thing I look for the most in someone is a commitment to working in health care – somebody who finds value in making a product that they know will benefit our local community and our global community. We look for people who want to be able to make a difference in people's lives. We don't really look for people who like to jump from job to job to job every year, trying to make another 50 cents an hour at the next step. That's really not what we’re looking for. We’re looking for folks who are motivated and interested in coming to work for us. We don’t want to be just another job for them.

How would you describe your workplace culture?

Patten: Since we’re in Florida, we’ll start by saying we work in a nice, air-conditioned building. For the most critical part of our business, we operate in clean rooms. Many people work in positions where they need to “gown up” in what some people call a bunny suit or an astronaut suit, so that they are covered head to toe in sterile garb. We’re the only aseptic processing plant in the Tampa area – meaning we’re the only one to make sterile products.

Arroyo: Overall, we're a very fast-paced environment, and there's a lot of opportunity for growth. You see a lot of employees here who have been here a long time. There’s a great family environment, and that’s part of it.

Patten: We have over 30 people that have been here 25 years or longer. So, we have a lot of people that are committed to what we do, through the good times and the bad times and the COVID times. People are committed to sticking with us and taking care of our customers and our patients.

What are the prospects for advancement at your organization?

Patten: I have a philosophy that I always look internally first. I want the people that are committed to our business to have the first opportunity to be promoted. All of our jobs are posted and promoted internally before they are opened up to external candidates. We have had many folks start at the ground floor and move up to exempt, salaried positions within a few years. Two years ago, we had 44 different transfer promotions, and last year we had more than 60. That’s one of the reasons we’re able to retain our employees – the opportunities for growth within the company.

Any benefits or amenities you offer that you’d like to highlight?

Arroyo: When you talk about the standard benefits, we have a 401(k), vacation, floating holidays, medical, dental, vision, including free contacts through Bausch & Lomb. All that starts on day one, no waiting period. We have a comprehensive health and wellness program with things like food demos, massages, yoga, and Zumba sessions, depending on the month.

We provide employee engagement to the max. In any given year, we have about 35 to 40 different employee engagement activities, where they can involve family members as well. We have a strong focus on training and team building. We also offer tuition reimbursement with no cap. We take pride in taking care of every employee.

How important is community engagement to your organization?

Arroyo: We do a lot of activities off site, often to benefit different charitable organizations that we partner with. Some of the organizations and efforts that we support include Adopt-A-Road, United Way Suncoast, Metropolitan Ministries, Feeding America, Backpacks of Hope, and the Children’s Home. Often, our employees’ family members join them to support these organizations. We’re very, very active in the community, and I think that’s very important to our employees.