Anyone passing by a nondesrcript warehouse facility in Doral won't be seeing a familiar sight anymore: dozens of protesters shouting at the cars coming in and out of the building. A controversial company that's been a longtime target for animal-rights activists quietly packed up their Miami location recently. Activists are claiming victory, even though Primate Products has just removed its business to another location.
"When we started protesting that facility about three years ago, there were usually 12 to 15 cars on any given workday," says Gary Serignese, an organizer with Smash HLS. This month, the group noticed the facility's lot was empty. Sources on the inside whispered that the company had packed up and eliminated a number of jobs. "The word from inside is that they moved to avoid the protests."
Smash HLS has been focusing on Primate Products since 2010, staging monthly protests outside the company's Miami location. It has also taken its displeasure out to the 'burbs, protesting outside the homes of the primate importer's employees. Serignese's group targets Primate Products exclusively, although it's branched out to aim its ire at other businesses associated with the company.
"We're all about concrete victories. I want measurable results," he tells New Times.
But Primate Products isn't shutting down for good. Although the Miami location has been mothballed, the company still has a facility out in Immokalee. When New Times talked to Primate Products' top man, Thomas J. Rowell, he explained that the protesters had nothing to do with the company's business decision.
"There's been a downturn for the business here for the last five or six years," Rowell says. "Just recently, we've had the quarantine facilities at our West Coast side approved by the Centers for Disease Control for the importation of animals into the United States, so it just didn't make sense to have two sites."
Rowell did confirm that the company had to cut staff -- somewhere between "six to ten jobs."
Regardless of the relocation, Smash HLS is marking this in the win column. "This is a good strategic victory," Serignese says. "But we're not done yet."