Cretex boosts medical plastics business through growth, acquisitions

Cretex, a privately held company with roots in the infrastructure business, is rapidly expanding its medical contract manufacturing business through acquisitions and organic growth, including expansion of a cleanroom under way now in Minnesota.

"We plan to grow our medical plastics business significantly in 2013—at a double-digit rate," Steven J.

Cretex runs Toshiba electrics in a cleanroom.

Ragaller, VP and CFO of Cretex Companies (Elk River, MN), told PlasticsToday in an interview. The medical market now accounts for slightly more than half of the company's total sales.

Infrastructure role

"Infrastructure still accounts for about 40% of our revenues, but it will not be a growth platform," said Ragaller.

L.D. Bailey and D.W. Longfellow founded Cretex Companies in 1917 to supply concrete drainage products. In 1982, the company diversified with the acquisition of a company called rms, a machining company that included Medtronic as one of its clients.

rms is now 100% focused on the medical business. It provides contract machining, molding and assembly services with a specialty in implantables for the cardio/neuro stimulation, vascular interventional, and orthopedic market segments. The rms Minneapolis location is focused on medical implants, while the company's Memphis, TN facility manufactures orthopedic instruments.  RMS Surgical makes custom surgical instruments and sterilization cases and trays.

In 1984, Cretex acquired Juno and in the last five years transformed it into a company focused on the medical space (specifically medical molding and fabrication of metal surgical cases & trays).

Medical acquisitions

Three recent acquisitions accelerated the company's move into medical contract manufacturing. They include:

  • Pacific Plastics & Engineering (Soquel, CA), a contract manufacturer of injection molded, assembled and packaged devices for the medical and biotech markets.
  • Spectralytics (Dassell, MN), a contract manufacturing supplier of laser-based services to the medical device industry. Spectralytics specializes in stent production, laser ablation, laser marking, and drilling of close tolerance holes required for catheters and embolic protection devices. Spectralytics works with metals, polymers, and bioabsorbable polymers and composites.
  • Meier, which manufactures precision stamped micro-sized metal-formed components and subassemblies.

Last month at MD&M Minneapolis, Cretex CEO Lynn Schuler announced that the medical businesses will now operate as Cretex Medical. The group is made up of  rms, rms Surgical (created from the Instruments division of rms and the Cases & Trays business of Juno), JunoPacific (created from Pacific Plastics and the plastic molding business of Juno), Meier, and Spectralytics.

"We've had a strong presence in the medical device industry for many years, with each of our medical companies serving its own market niche," said Schuler. "But most people don't know that these companies are part of a larger group, Cretex Companies with a portfolio of complimentary manufacturing capabilities. Under the umbrella name of Cretex Medical, we showcase the breadth of our services for medical contract manufacturing."

The five companies in Cretex Medical operate in seven locations throughout the US with about 1,200 employees.

RMS Surgical currently is taking over a 112,000-sq-ft building in Anoka, MN and expanding its cleanroom capabilities.


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