started at The Upjohn Company in Portage on 5th May 1980. One
week later the famous Kalamazoo tornado swept through downtown,
just missing the Upjohn research buildings. I recall managers
telling me in those days “Jeremy, if you do a good job you’ll
have a job for life at Upjohn”. Back in 1980 Upjohn was THE
place to work in Kalamazoo and Portage. If you went to the bank
for a loan and told them you worked at Upjohn nothing more was
My first assignment was on the Building 41 South Mezzanine, working in the Control Spectroscopy laboratory. Doug
Hatzenbuhler was my first boss. There was a back door that we
used to walk through the warehouse to the cafeteria. All the
food in the cafeteria was made on site from scratch.
It was delicious and inexpensive. Wednesday was chocolate doughnut
day. Thursday was steak day. Friday was nutty doughnut day when
we eagerly read the Yellow Pages to see what bargains were for
sale by other employees. There was a barbers shop and a pharmacy
on-site. Checks could be cashed at work too. In 1980 the monthly healthcare
premium was $1 and retirees were not charged anything.
On occasion I needed to go over to the B41 Central Mezzanine and
used the cat walks over the production areas to get there. One
day I got lost on the cat walks and ended up on the roof. I
worked on the South Mezzanine for two years then moved out to
Building 233, working for Jim Ray. We cooked breakfasts there at
the weekends and had a barbecue grill. One day we were
barbecuing outside the building when the fire truck arrived and
the firemen rushed in the building demanding to know where the
fire was. Alas, there was no fire and they confiscated
our barbecue grill.
We used to play jokes on one another all the time. My best one
was when Buzz Wright and I had to take some samples from
Building 233 to Building 41. It was a hot, hot summer day. We climbed into my old Dodge pickup. I backed it out
of the parking spot in front of the building and then stopped. I
said "Buzz, it's so hot in here. Would you wind down your
window?". So he did. I smiled at him but didn't move the truck.
He started to say "What's going on?" when the cold water from the
lawn sprinkler suddenly hit him on the back of the neck.
In 1983 my unit moved to the first floor of the brand new Control
Building 259. Boy, were we impressed by having such spacious and
state-of-the-art labs. Money seems to be no object back then. In
July 1984 I got a job in International QA working for Tom
Branch. That was a blast, meeting Upjohn people from around the
world. I made many new friends. For entertainment we used to take
foreign visitors to Wings hockey games and chuckle at the
appalled look on their faces when the players started fighting.
I particularly remember Jaime Albors from Puerto Rico – a really
nice guy. By 1985 the monthly healthcare premium had risen to
The highlight of the Control year was the annual meeting, held
at the Hilton Hotel in Downtown Kalamazoo. It was open bar all
evening with plenty of delicious food. The most anticipated food
was the large bowl of fresh shrimp. Everyone who worked in Control
remembers those shrimp. The bolder folks, both men
and women, would walk across the street to the Mermaid Lounge
for further entertainment after the party in the HIlton was
ending. Scientific conferences at Brook Lodge were always treasured
I spent a couple of years as a lab manager and then became the
Upjohn Compendial Coordinator for 6 years. This was an excellent
job and I got some trips on the company plane to
Washington DC. I finished my Upjohn days working for Sue
Harrison in Control Services. I was the first system owner for
WISDOM, an early electronic document management system that
started in API and spread to Building 41 (we finally retired
WISDOM in 2009).
After 1995 when The Upjohn Company ceased to exist I always seemed
to be in the right place to avoid the endless layoffs
that followed. First the company name was Pharmacia & Upjohn,
then Pharmacia and finally Pfizer. The years flew by and in 2015
I find myself with 35 years of service and still working in
Building 259 for the Quality Organization, the current
incarnation of the old Control Division. All of us who
were privileged to work for The Upjohn Company remember it fondly.
The carefree times we had at Upjohn will never come again
for working people.
Jeremy Winkworth - March 2015