Taking on a new and different market isn't easy, but with good strategic planning, knowledgeable people on the team and the right equipment in place, it can be a successful endeavor. Just ask Flambeau Inc. (Auburn Hills, MI), whose newest addition to its Nordic Group of companies has experienced exceptional growth in the medical device market.
Flambeau is perhaps best known for its recreational and sporting goods, Duncan yo-yos, and cases for a range of products including artist supplies, guns, EMT emergency kit cases, and automotive, defense and industrial components. In fact, Flambeau has 11 global manufacturing facilities that offer injection molding, blowmolding, assembly and other secondary services, and it produces hundreds of thousands of parts and products daily to serve retailers and OEM customers around the world.
When Flambeau purchased Phoenix, AZ–based Mastercraft Companies three years ago, it was a strategic move that gave the company its initial entrance into molding for the medical device market. Named Flambeau Medical Markets Group, the company added a third building to the Phoenix campus, creating a 20,000-square-foot Class 7 cleanroom manufacturing and assembly facility that today produces a variety of medical components for specialty surgical and cardiac applications. The facilities are ISO 13485/GMP compliant.
The company quickly gained credibility in the medical device manufacturing industry, which is difficult to achieve.
"We already had a presence in medical with Class 2 products, such as hospital beds and other products for the healthcare industry," said Dennis Cook, Vice President and General Manager for Flambeau Medical Markets Group. That along with Flambeau's extensive experience in automotive, heavy duty truck and defense gave the company an edge in dealing with regulatory issues and an understanding of what it takes to be compliant. "In the medical device market, we understand the importance of high quality and reliability," Cook emphasized. "We are focused on helping customers navigate the regulatory environment of this industry."
With a total of 27 presses in the main molding plant and five in the medical molding facility ranging in size from 55 to 165 tons, including a 55-ton vertical molding press for overmolding, Flambeau Medical Markets Group has doubled its revenue over the past year and has had record sales during the first half of this year. A third building houses the company's blowmolding operations and in-house tooling.
The proximity to Mexico provides it with access to medical OEM customers south of the border; it makes regular shipments to Mexico and even to Costa Rica, where medical manufacturing has blossomed over the past decade.
Being a medical device manufacturer and supplier to global OEMs requires a company to ride that train with its customers all the way, through the good times and the bad. Cook noted that recalls are always going to be an issue in the medical device industry, but that's part of the whole risk-reward in this business. "There are always learning opportunities when recalls happen," said Cook. "When customers need us to help them in a product recall situation, we step up and become part of the solution."
And that is also a big part of Flambeau Medical Markets Group's success.