King Systems Corp., a medical molder in Noblesville, Ind., is expanding its headquarters plant to handle growing demand for its proprietary line of anesthesiology products.
The firm, which employs about 400 at the site, is adding 25,000 square feet to the 100,000-square-foot plant to boost its injection molding and extrusion capability and gain warehouse space.
Kevin Burrow, vice president of sales and marketing, said the company has seen organic growth of 15 percent a year in 2002 and 2003, and is on pace to grow about 12 percent this year.
The firm said it is one of the larger companies in the niche market of anesthesiology masks and related equipment like tubes, and that business accounts for 95 percent of its roughly $50 million a year in annual sales.
King will add one extrusion line and one injection press, giving it five lines and 14 presses. King is getting property tax abatements from the city for the $1.2 million expansion, Burrow said.
The company has made other investments in plastics lately - it bought rotational molder and latex dipping company H&M Rubber in Kent, Ohio, in 2003. H&M supplied King with breathing bags and cushions for its face masks.
While sales are growing, Burrow said the firm is encountering more competition from products made in low-cost locations, including China. That, combined with price pressures from hospital buying groups, puts pressure on profit margins, he said.
``We're really one of the last people in our particular space doing it domestically,'' Burrow said. ``A lot of our competitors are importing or ... manufacturing in a non-U.S. environment.''
The company tries to address lower-cost competition and maintain margins by automating, investing in new equipment and developing new products, he said.
For example, King has several patents for one of its flagship products, an anesthesia tube - divided into an inner and outer tube - that pumps in the gas in the inner layer and expels the patient's breath in the outer tube.
That setup eliminates the need for filters and humidifying equipment in the operating room. ``If you do not demonstrate a product that delivers value, it's very difficult to compete,'' he said.
The company also offers toolmaking and engineering services.