Published September 2002
LAKE STEVENS — Agilent Technologies plans to move all 200 employees from its large building and corporate campus on Soper Hill Road within the next 18 months.
The planned closure of the facility west of Lake Stevens comes after a string of layoffs that have drastically reduced the number of employees in the test and measurement division. In fact, the company plans to shed another 40 employees by May.
“The work force now numbers about 200. At one time, there were 1,000 employees who worked on the site,” said Liz Cox, spokeswoman for Agilent’s operations in the Northwest. “They really have more space than they need, simply put.”
Cox said a number of smaller locations in the Puget Sound area are being considered for the employees, though she declined to give specifics. In addition to the Lake Stevens site, Agilent has corporate offices in downtown Seattle.
The Lake Stevens division works on research and development, new product introduction and marketing of digital communication analyzers and other equipment. Last year, Agilent officials said the plant had not been selected as a manufacturing center, sending work to other locations.
The test and measurement division occupies part of a 270,000-square-foot facility built by the company’s former parent, Hewlett-Packard, in 1985. The building sits on a 130-acre, wooded property just west of Soper Hill Road’s intersection with Highway 9.
Hewlett-Packard fought from 1979 through the early 1980s to get Snohomish County leaders to amend the comprehensive plan to allow the business park there. The issue ended up with court decisions affirming the rezoning action.
In 1999, Agilent was spun off from Hewlett-Packard into an independent company. Operating worldwide, the company has its headquarters in Palo Alto, Calif.
Nearly 20 years after the controversy over the Soper Hill Road campus, news that it will be shut down came as a surprise to local business leaders.
“I’m disappointed to hear that,” said Julie Lowry, president of the Greater Lake Stevens Chamber of Commerce, of which Agilent is a member. “I guess it comes with the state of the economy.”
Lowry added she was relieved to hear most of the remaining workers will still have jobs, although they will be moved.
“A lot of people who work there live in this area, so I’m glad they’ll still be employed,” she said.
Cox said Agilent hasn’t determined whether it will sell the property. She added that the move to a smaller space and possible sell-off of the facility is not unique to Lake Stevens.
Along with layoffs affecting thousands from the company in recent years, Agilent has closed or consolidated operations across the country and overseas.
“Generally, Agilent for the past three years has been evaluating the use of its land and buildings all over the company to match the space needs with the business plans,” she said. “The attempt is to reduce the operating expenses by getting rid of excess space and the associated facility costs that go along with that.”
© The Daily Herald Co., Everett, WA