A sign says “Hybrid vehicle testing area” in the middle of Diplomat Specialty Pharmacy’s growing headquarters. Diplomat has hired more than 500 people so rapidly that workers haven’t had time to replace all the old GM signs with new ones.
Just two years ago, 500 General Motors employees worked here, on the site of the original 1937 sit-down strike that gave birth to the UAW. The site and other old GM sites were discarded during the 2009 GM bankruptcy.
But the 500,000 square foot site, home to a company that has made Inc.’s list of the fastest growing private companies in the nation three years in a row, was transformed a year ago when Diplomat moved in. It is already home to more than 500 new pharmaceutical workers with hundreds more expected to join them.
A new sign, placed on the site by the new owners says “If your `why’ is big enough the ‘how’ doesn’t matter.” The “why” in this case is a goal to make what is already the fifth largest specialty pharmacy business in the nation even bigger.
In 1975, Diplomat started as a one-story pharmacy. Now it produces rare and patient-specific prescriptions for patients with chronic illnesses, shipping medicine to major retailers across the country.
“Nobody does a meeting here before we take them on a tour,” said Diplomat President and Chief Executive Officer Phil Hagerman, noting that the magnitude of the site shows potential clients how easily the company can grow by simply turning on lights and power in now un-used corners of the massive site.
Diplomat’s revenue leapt 246 percent from 2007 to 2001 from $167.1 million to $577.5 million and the company expects to top the $1 billion mark next year. It also hired 179 employees during that time, Hagerman said.
The Michigan Economic Development Corporation helped match Diplomat with the former GM automotive site through the RACER (Revitalizing Auto Communities Environmental Response) Trust. Created in March 2011 by a U.S. Bankruptcy Court to revitalize properties and other facilities owned by the former General Motors Corp. before its 2009 bankruptcy, the RACER Trust now owns more than 44 million square feet of industrial space in 66 buildings across 7,000 acres in 14 states, principally in the Midwest and Northeast.