By: Roger Renstrom
March 26, 2013
ANAHEIM, CALIF. — MedPlast Inc. continues to evolve as a diverse, vertically integrated, custom plastics processor for health-care and commercial markets.
The Tempe, Ariz.-based firm — which operates 14 facilities in the U.S., China and Mexico — invests about $5 million a year in plants and equipment, according to CEO Harold Faig.
In March, MedPlast fired up two new Aoki four-cavity injection stretch blow molding machines at its medical-certified site in Tijuana, Mexico — an equipment investment of more than $1 million.
Faig said the company must address changes in the demand for high regulatory compliance while creating value-added products.
"We are building our requirements around capabilities to manufacture things no one else wants to do," he said. MedPlast encourages customers to "give us your difficult products," Faig said in a Feb. 13 interview at the Medical Design & Manufacturing West trade show in Anaheim.
The company projects 2013 sales "north of $250 million," after recording $222 million last year, Faig said. That sales growth will come from existing business as well as new opportunities, according to Matthew Langdon, executive vice president of sales and marketing.
In various locations, MedPlast has thermoplastic, silicone and rubber molding capabilities, and the firm can package, sterilize and ship to destination, Faig said.
In all, MedPlast operates more than 400 presses for injection molding and blow molding. In the U.S., Faig claims that no other firm offers extrusion blow molding, injection blow molding and injection stretch blow molding. "Med- Plast has more two-shot capability than anyone else [in the U.S.] and more kinds of two-shot capability than anyone else," Faig said. Most of that capability is for health-care work, he added.
For injection molding, MedPlast presses have clamping forces of 3-1,000 tons, though most are in the 50- to 400-ton range, Faig said.
"As we added plants, we needed to be an extension of our customers' manufacturing processes," Faig said.
"Customers want integrated capabilities," Langdon said.
A customer project that has been two years in development at MedPlast's West Berlin, N.J., facility is currently undergoing clinical reviews. MedPlast performed finite analysis, did design-for-manufacturability work, created the tool and molded the top piece of a knee replacement using medical-grade polyetheretherketone.
"They wanted a net shape on the finished part," Faig said. The knee-replacement part bolts to a titanium plate and rod.
Later this year MedPlast expects to receive permission from China's State Food and Drug Administration for a bioburden testing laboratory there. The firm first applied for authorization in 2011.
Also during 2013, MedPlast is transferring some of its technological capabilities to Suzhou, China, to complement production at its elastomer-focused plant in Elkhorn, Wis. The firm moved two injection blow molding machines in the first quarter, and plans to transfer Elkhorn capabilities for two-shot molding and silicone molding during the third quarter. While sharing knowledge, the Elkhorn plant remains busy with significant production volumes, according to Faig.
Baird Capital Partners of Chicago owns the majority share of MedPlast; management owns about 20 percent.
Private equity investors include River Cities Capital Funds of Cincinnati and the Chicago office of Jordan Co. LP.
Last year MedPlast and its investors acquired fellow contract manufacturer United Plastics Group Inc. of Oak Brook, Ill., adding significant reach and production capacity in China — as well as Langdon, who was with UPG for 10 years.
MedPlast completed a restructuring of the UPG operations in November, with the MedPlast brand concentrating on the medical business in nine plants and the UPG brand on specialty industrial markets in five plants.
MedPlast was formed in 2008 from a combination of two Baird acquisitions: Wayne, Pa.-based Applied Tech Products Corp.'s engineered rubber and plastics group and K&W Medical Specialties of Westfield, Pa. Baird is the U.S.-based buyout fund of Baird Private Equity, an affiliate of Robert W. Baird & Co.
Faig, a longtime member of Baird's advisory board, joined MedPlast as CEO. Previously, he was president and CEO of injection molder Tech Group Inc. of Scottsdale, Ariz. He was instrumental in selling Tech Group to West Pharmaceutical Services Inc. in May 2005. Faig had been on Tech's board of directors since 1991.
Faig retired from Milacron Inc. in August 2003 after a long career with the Cincinnati-based plastics equipment maker. He was Milacron's president and chief operating officer.
Faig said that in assembling MedPlast operations, he pursued a strategy of grouping the plants in North America. "We wanted to serve the geographic concentrations for health care," he said.
MedPlast's Northeast facilities are in West Berlin; Westfield; and Chicopee, Mass. Central sites are Elkhorn; Monticello, Iowa; Minneapolis; and Houston. Western sites are Tempe; Tijuana; and Fremont, Calif. Four plants are in China.
Among the acquired UPG assets is mold-making capability in Suzhou. "We moved the UPG mold-making shop to another Suzhou building to consolidate mold making with medical molding," Faig said. MedPlast makes molds only for medical products and only for internal use, he said.
MedPlast produces high-end, implantable components using exotic biocompatible materials like titanium, cobalt chromium and tantalum in screws, bolts and anchors, and using polymers in pessary and orthopedic devices, ocular plugs and hydrocephalus shunts.
MedPlast employs about 1,700, and in the past year has added more sales support, Faig said.