A group of Maryland companies - including an injection molder, a thermoformer, several metal fabricators and a rubber processor - have formed a loose partnership to target the medical-device market.
The Atlantic Medical Device Consortium was organized in March by a Baltimore consulting firm with the goal of beefing up marketing and sales programs of its members and helping to reverse what some see as the declining fortunes of Maryland's medical manufacturing industry.
``There is a lot of medical development work that has left the state,'' said J. Morris Binder, president of the corporate division of Baltimore consulting firm Bottom Line Connection.
BLC manages AMDC's marketing program and helped organize the group. Seed money from a Maryland economic development agency helped defray some costs for the coalition's members.
The consortium debuted at the Medical Design & Manufacturing East show, held June 4-6 in New York.
K. Randol Ervin, president of injection molder Klon Corp. in Hunt Valley, Md., and sister company Maryland Thermoforming Corp. in Baltimore, said his firms paid $22,000 to join the consortium because the two companies need to beef up their marketing.
``The reason is, personally, we never advertise,'' said Ervin. ``It was just word of mouth. ... With this economy, we can't afford to do that.''
Previously, they got plenty of work from customers seeking them out, but the economic downturn has cut business 40 percent in the past year, he said.
About half of Klon and Maryland Thermoforming's business is medical-related, including proprietary drippers for precise fluid metering. The two companies have about 90 employees and do $12 million in annual sales.
Members have not invested in each other, and they are not obligated to work with each other, said James Palinkas, president of rubber processor Plasticoid Co. in Elkton, Md.
But some, like Plasticoid and Klon, worked together before the consortium formed, and said they see advantages to being part of a larger network. Palinkas said the consortium will help him compete against larger, more diversified competitors such as West Pharmaceutical Inc.
``I've had guys walk in, and I say I can't help them, but I didn't have any place to send them,'' said Ervin.
The consortium wants to recruit other companies, and is talking with plastic extrusion and foaming companies. Palinkas said. Membership is not limited to Maryland companies, but Maryland's seed money is distributed only to in-state firms, Binder said.
The consortium also includes Micro Machining Inc. and Electromet Corp., metal machining and fabricating companies in Baltimore and Hagerstown, Md., respectively.