Atek Medical Manufacturing said its medical-device plant in Heridia, Costa Rica, is doubling the company's clean room space to 20,000 square feet and positioning the $70 million company for international business.
``Our customers are looking for international manufacturing and distribution,'' said Jim Bartel, marketing director for Atek Cos. in Minneapolis, in an April 3 telephone interview. Atek Cos. is the parent of the Grand Rapids, Mich., medical division.
The Costa Rica plant offers capabilities similar to the firm's Grand Rapids plant, bringing Atek Medical more flexibility, he said.
The 15,000-square-foot Costa Rica plant began operating in January, the company announced March 28. It was slated to open in June 2007, but the schedule was delayed when the previous tenant was unable to find a new home as quickly as anticipated.
Bartel said Atek Medical chose Costa Rica for its first plant outside of the United States because of the country's ``stable economy, a very well-educated workforce, a stable democratic market'' and because other medical-device companies have established successful operations in the area.
``It is a proven good place to be,'' he said. ``Our expectations are that the Costa Rica plant will serve the North American market and distribute ... [to] Central and South America,'' said Bartel.
Currently, 90-95 percent of Atek Medical's business is in North America.
``We are aggressively looking to grow, through acquisition and through growth from current customers and the addition of new customers,'' he said, adding that Atek Medical has grown 15-20 percent during the past three years.
Two-thirds of the space in the Costa Rica plant is for a clean room, Bartel said. The plant currently employs 12, but should employ 100 within a year, said Paul Orlando, Atek Medical business development manager.
The plant in Costa Rica will make Class III implantable devices and Class II disposable devices for the cardiac, cardiac- care, orthopedic, spinal, neural, sports-medicine, neurological and gynecological markets, Orlando said. The facility is ISO 13485:20030-certified and registered with the Food and Drug Administration.
The plant will offer process validation, sterilization, bonding, pouch blistering and form-fill-seal packaging, Bartel said.
Atek Medical's Grand Rapids operation has 250 employees and 55,000 square feet for manufacturing, including a 10,000-square-foot clean room. Despite the difference in size, Bartel said the Costa Rica plant will have 75 percent of the production capacity of the Grand Rapids plant.
Atek Medical was formed from the assets of Medtronic Inc.'s cardiac surgery business, which Atek Cos. acquired in 2003. The origins of the company date to 1979.