Irish medical diagnostics firm Randox Laboratories Ltd. has opened a $7 million, 30,000-square-foot facility in Kearneysville, W.Va., that will serve as its U.S. headquarters and first U.S. research and development and manufacturing base.
Randox Laboratories-U.S. Ltd. initially will serve as the U.S. logistics and customer support center for the Antrim, Northern Ireland, company, which currently employs 20 in the United States.
We hope to start R&D on a small scale by the end of this year or the first quarter of 2011 and then ramp it up, said Chris Henry, marketing manager for Randox. The company employs 850 worldwide, including 600 at its manufacturing plant in Crumlin, Northern Ireland.
Manufacturing will come after that, definitely in 2011, Henry said in an Aug. 5 telephone interview. We hope to have 130 people in the U.S. by the end of 2012, the majority of them in Kearneysville.
Henry said the first product the company plans to manufacture in the U.S. will be its drug-testing biochip.
We believe the U.S. to be a viable market for us, Henry said. We believe we can grow the U.S. market considerably.
The company had a customer support staff and logistics operation in Oceanside, Calif., the past six years that it closed when the Kearneysville plant started up in April. Oceanside did not have any R&D or manufacturing.
Kearneysville also has space for warehousing, training and conference facilities, a logistics bay and offices. It will let Randox conduct machine demonstrations and let customers examine its analyzers in person.
Henry said the company chose the West Virginia site because it is an hour from Dulles International Airport and about 70 miles from Washington, making it convenient for traveling to and from the United Kingdom.
Randox plans to use the plant to expand its foothold in the North American market, where Fitzgerald said about 25 percent of its products are sold. Randox makes diagnostic and reagent equipment that hospitals and labs used to test blood samples.
Our new space will help us accelerate our growth here because there will be short turnaround times for logistics if we do more R&D and manufacturing in the U.S., Henry said. It will help us get to the market quicker and help us with our sales training.
We want to move some of our production over here, products specifically for the American market, he said.
He stressed, however, that the expansion into the U.S. does not mean the company is reducing its commitment to manufacturing in Northern Ireland.
If we can ramp up R&D in America, we will need more manufacturing in Crumlin. The greater the success of the business in North America, the faster the rate of expansion will be in Crumlin, he said. He noted the firm will add 35 people to its Crumlin workforce in September and more later this year.