Medical parts molder MRPC used 2009 to reinvest in and retrench its experience and core capabilities, setting up 2010 as a year for improved growth.
The Butler, Wis.-based firm's last fiscal year was not a great one, but it wasn't terrible either, said President Greg Riemer. The company was able to attain a significant ISO certification, add key personnel and gain customers based on subassembly work. The outfit also is primed for opportunities this year, with plans to add injection molding machines and secondary equipment.
Steps to prepare
MRPC gained ISO 13485 certification in 2009, meeting standards for a comprehensive management system for designing and manufacturing medical devices. The company found that its customers, which make medical devices, want their partners to meet the same high regulatory standards they do.
The firm, which already was ISO 9001-certified, believes ISO 13485 will become a standard requirement of medical-device makers within three to five years. MRPC wanted to jump ahead of the curve to demonstrate that we offer our customers the best and most efficient services today, said quality director Michael Dalton.
MRPC has made many tremendous technological advancements, and we have a great team throughout, said Riemer, who become president Jan. 1. A 13-year company veteran and the grandson of its founder, he previously served as chief operating officer and vice president of sales and marketing. We're on the leading edge of a growing industry, and I'm really excited about our prospects, he said.
CEO John Schlump said Riemer's hands-on experience particularly coming during the worst recession of this generation and his 20 years in plastics, rubber and silicone molding provide him with the right tools to lead MRPC.
During the last three years, Greg has built an executive leadership team to support the strategic growth plan for the company, said Schlump, who will step down from his position in June.
The most recent hires include Brunson Parish as a senior process engineer and Shane Mesenberg as upper Midwest territory manager, both of whom joined last fall. Parish is the eighth engineer on staff up from five only two years ago and he brings an experience in scientific injection molding.
We've dabbled in scientific molding technology a bit, but now we have the resources to move forward aggressively, both on the silicone and thermoplastic sides of the business, Riemer said.
Mesenberg, with 14 years of plastic molding industry experience, focuses on the Minneapolis area and the medical-device marketplace in his position. Mark Brandstaetter, vice president of sales and marketing, said Mesenberg brought a wealth of contacts and is doing a great job in his short stint with the company. He's a great fit for us, Brandstaetter said.
The ability to attract good engineering and sales people was one positive result from the economy being in a downturn and affecting other's businesses, Riemer said. We may not have been able to get the people we did in a stronger market, he said.
In all, MRPC employs about 95.
With capabilities for silicone, rubber and plastic molding, MRPC has over the past few years moved into manufacturing more multimaterial components and more subassembly work, Riemer said. The company is not in position yet to do fully finished device manufacturing or assembly because it is not Food and Drug Administration-registered, but it wants to pursue that area when the right opportunity with the right partner comes along, he said.
For now, its multimaterial projects might include molding a thermoplastic part and molding a silicone component onto it; assembling an extruded part as a piece of a larger component; or assembling a metal component acquired from outside. MRPC has positioned itself to do more of these types of jobs, and last year it secured two customers with its subassembly business, Riemer said.
Those projects are moving into production as we speak, so we'll start realizing revenues in 2010, and then get into a more mature business pattern of sales on those jobs in 2011 and beyond, he said.
The company has set up some work centers in the facility dedicated to subassembly, and to support that commitment it is buying some molding machines, automated assembly machinery, other secondary operating equipment, curing ovens and equipment for packaging components before shipping them to sterilization houses, Riemer said.
The bulk of production space about 50,000 of 85,000 square feet in three separate buildings is dedicated to clean room molding. The three areas, each of which is Class 8/100,000, are for house silicone processing; custom rubber processing and molding; and thermoplastic molding and assemblies. The fourth room, a Class 7/10,000 area, contains molding of implantable polyetheretherketone parts and long-term implantable silicones, Riemer said.
The plastics side of business is growing, but in most cases it is as a complement to the silicone side, like in overmolding or two-component assembly, he said.
Generally we don't go to market as a stand-alone thermoplastics molder, he said.
Wherever we can provide value with our thermoplastic capabilities in conjunction with our elastomer capabilities is where we're real successful. Quite frankly, we don't have a big enough thermoplastic operation to compete with big players in the marketplace.
MRPC believes it has used its resources wisely over the past couple of years by preparing for better times. That's important, Riemer said, because many manufacturers have become weak from a bad economy and potential customers are looking to partner with financially strong firms. MRPC believes it fits that bill.
That's something we're proud of, he said.
We're debt-free, we continue to invest in good people and equipment and are making ourselves the best we can be. When the economy starts to make its turn, we're going to be ready to really take off.
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