MedPlast targets acquisitions in Latin America, Asia

Three-year-old MedPlast (Tempe, AZ) is looking for acquisition candidates in healthcare contract manufacturing in Latin America and Asia, and hopes to expand its global footprint within two years.

Harold Faig

Former Milacron President Harold Faig.

"If you want to be successful in a region of the world, you need to have a permanent presence there," Harold Faig, CEO of MedPlast told in an interview. "And I'm not a fan of building from scratch. My focus is to go where the customers are and generally that means you need to buy facilities and optimize them to what is needed."

MedPlast operates five plants in the United States that were part of its acquisition of the engineered rubber and plastics group of Applied Tech Products Corp. and K&W Medical Specialties in 2008 just as a major recession was taking hold. Faig ordered a restructuring to improve costs as well as investment in new capabilities required for a medical market focus.

"We've added more than 75,000 square feet of cleanroom space and we've added a number of engineering improvements from automation system design to completely rebuilding our tooling capability to focus on health care," Faig said. "We've also spent a great amount of  time and money on building compliance to ISO 13485 and cGMP into our business."  One  quality system is now  in place across all five locations.

Medical focus

The medical focus was a goal from the very start of the company.

"It was clear to me in my previous experiences that much of the shoot-and-ship, commodity type molding was moving to Asia. Healthcare processing still has a very strong engineering and compliance component. "

Faig is not a newcomer. He has 40-years of experience in plastics as president and chief operating officer of Milacron Inc. and CEO of the Tech Group, which was sold to West Pharmaceutical Services in 2005.

Retirement wasn't a good fit for Faig and he worked with two investment groups to start MedPlast. "We decided to put together a business model that was different from the norm in the area of healthcare manufacturing." That included an emphasis on company-wide compliance, broad materials capabilities, and a commitment to engineering, Faig said in the interview.

The two investment funds that worked with Faig to create MedPlast now want a significant global expansion. They are Baird Capital Partners (BCP), the Chicago-based buyout fund of Baird Private Equity, and coinvestor  River Cities Capital Funds of Cincinnati, OH.

Tool room.
The mold making operation at MedPlast's New Jersey plant was totally revamped.

Faig is remembered at Milacron for leading a commitment to electric injection molding machines. That seemed like a risky bet at the time given the conservative nature of the plastics business and its commitment to hydraulic and toggle drive systems. But electrics are now a standard in the medical processing field because of their cleanliness, efficiency and precision.

Faig told that he has applied his capital equipment engineering experience to MedPlast. "We're doing a lot of our own machine designs to meet specific customer requirements. For example, we're doing two-shots that are side-by-side barrels. You can get two-shots that are over-under, or at a 45/90 degree angle."

Faig also felt that MedPlast should develop other technology to leverage what is needed in the medical field. The company has what Faig describes as a unique range of materials capabilities, particularly in elastomeric thermosets ranging from natural and synthetic rubbers to liquid silicone.

Extrusion blow molding

MedPlast has also added extrusion blow molding to make very small parts such as vials and bellows that are unique to healthcare. The company modified a Battenfeld-Fischer VK1-1 dual-head extrusion molding machine to meet specific medical market requirements.

MedPlast plants specialize in specific manufacturing capabilities. For example, the Westfield, PA plant focuses on production of high-volume round, clear components made of materials such as polycarbonate, polyvinyl chloride (PVC) or polyethylene terephthalate (PET). Typical products are syringes and bulk filtration systems. Faig said the specialization is important for customers who want to avoid any chance of contamination.

Plants in West Berlin, NJ, and Tempe, AZ specialize in production of prismatic parts such as handles for staplers or trocar units. Precision medical mold making takes place at West Berlin.

A plant in Elkhorn, WI focuses on elastomeric processing, including liquid injection molding, compression molding, transfer molding, multicomponent molding, and most recently, silicone extrusion.

MedPlast sales to the medical field now represent more than 80% of total revenues. The company operates approximately 220 injection molding machines. About 70% are 50 to 250 tons of clamping force. The company added about a dozen machines this year, including some new all electrics from Fanuc and Niagata. Approximately 40% of MedPlast's business has some component of value-added assembly.

Faig calls its nonmedical business "select industrial", meaning that it has quality and precision requirements comparable to the medical market.



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