Precision molder and contract manufacturer GW Plastics Inc. is expanding its offshore medical capabilities with the addition of its first manufacturing operation in Costa Rica, which will also be its third plant outside of the U.S.
GW said its new joint venture, a medical molding and assembly operation in Cartago will start operating this summer. Interior work already is under way on a 33,000-square-foot plant scheduled to open early next year. The decision to move into Costa Rica represents an investment in excess of $3 million.
“We are committed to meeting the global outsourcing needs of our health-care customers,” said Brenan Riehl, president and CEO of the Bethel, Vt., company. “A manufacturing location in Costa Rica will allow us to more efficiently support our customers in Latin America.”
The joint venture, GW Plastics Cartago, is between GW — the majority partner — and Corprosemm Corp., a Cartago injection molder and contract manufacturer for the medical industry.
GW Plastics Cartago will start production this summer in Corprosemm's 10,000-square-foot injection molding plant, which also has an ISO 8 Class 100,000 clean room for assembly.
“We're going to fill that pretty quickly,” said Tim Reis, GW vice president of business development for health care, in an interview at Medical Design and Manufacturing East in New York. The plant currently has three presses, but has room for anywhere from six to nine presses, he said. “We'll be running sometime between August and September.”
The new plant, scheduled to open next year in the same industrial park, will have room for about 20 injection molding machines, Reis said.
“We've been shipping product to Costa Rica for four to five years now, but the environment has changed and we need to be there,” said Reis. “OEMs want a local supplier.”
And that's not just for products made in Costa Rica and exported elsewhere.
“The medical industry in Costa Rica has grown about 300 percent in the last seven years,” said Katherine Mora, a member of the management team at Corprosemm. “Most key medical companies are planning on growing in Costa Rica as well and they are all looking for local suppliers.”
“The Costa Rica plant is going to be very important to us and be a key part of our growth going forward,” said Larry Bell, GW's vice president of business development. “A lot of companies don't want to go to China, and Mexico hasn't met their expectations. This gives us a low-cost-country footprint without being in Mexico or China.”
GW Plastics — winner of the 2009 Plastics News Processor of the Year Award — currently has plants in the Vermont towns of Bethel and Royalton, as well as in San Antonio; Querétaro, Mexico; and Dongguan, China. Worldwide, it operates six Class 8 clean rooms.
“GW Cartago will have the same approach to manufacturing as our other locations,” said GW Vice President and Chief Operating Officer Arthur Bennert. “Coupled with Corprosemm's medical-device experience, [it] will allow us to offer unparalleled manufacturing support to our health-care customers in the region.”