SOCIAL CIRCLE, Ga. — Tom Ciesliga is a familiar face to many at the Takeda Georgia Manufacturing Facility in Stanton Springs Business Park near Social Circle.
Ciesliga was recently named site head for the sprawling 1 million square foot facility that employs around 1,500.
Ciesliga, trained as a chemical engineer, has been at the 155-acre site for close to a decade. He previously worked for Shire and Baxalta, the companies that had owned and operated the facility prior to Takeda’s ownership in 2018.
Ciesliga went into biotech manufacturing after graduating from Michigan State University. He bounced around from the Midwest, to Los Angeles, to New Jersey, to Texas, to Ohio and back to L.A. before landing in Social Circle.
Asked what Takeda does, Ciesliga simultaneously answered why he chooses to continue his leadership role within the 240-year-old global company.
“We make medicine so people can lead healthy lives,” Ciesliga said. “Being able to do something to make a difference in people’s lives was a [career] driver.”
When asked how he leads what essentially is a small city, Ciesliga replied, “It’s important to step back and look at the big picture.”
The site head said he is currently working with his team to make the Takeda facility more efficient via its processes. The challenge, according to Ciesliga, is to stay focused and prioritize.
As a leader he tries to be consistent with people and clear when communicating company objectives, he said. The company also hires “good people” to carry out Takeda’s mission, Ciesliga said.
Takeda’s primary mission is to manufacture plasma-protein therapies to treat patients who suffer from primary immunodeficiency. It takes an average of seven to nine months from the time the plasma is donated to the time an immunoglobulin product reaches the patient, according to Takeda spokesperson Gabe Khouli.
The facility also produces a plasma-derived albumin product to treat burn and trauma victims, Khouli said.
Plasma is found in the blood and is separated out once collected from donors, he explained. The plasma is then frozen and stored at the facility until it can be tested and approved for use. The plasma is thawed and proteins are separated out through the fractionation process. Proteins from the plasma are isolated and purified into a liquid form. This liquid product is transferred to vials or bags and prepared for packaging and distribution.
The company's overall research and development efforts focus on four areas: oncology, rare diseases, neuroscience and gastroenterology, in addition to plasma-derived therapies, Khouli said. However, the Stanton Springs plant only works in partnership with some other Takeda facilities in some research and development for plasma-derived therapies, he said.
Takeda has invested $1 billion into its Georgia manufacturing site, Khouli said. The corporation is committed to remaining in Georgia, as shown by Takeda’s legacy site in Vienna, Austria, and another in Los Angeles that each have been operating for more than 65 years, Khouli said.
Ciesliga said Takeda’s presence in Social Circle would live beyond him. He said the facility strives to impact the community in a positive way, by creating jobs and an environment where employees like to work.
“We still see, with our workforce, a high amount of applicants,” Ciesliga said. “These are stable manufacturing jobs.”