During a press junket to Steripack’s world-class facility in the lush countryside near Clara, Ireland, group sales director Barry Moore announced that the company would be bringing its medical packaging expertise to the US market. He also announced that Tony Paolino had just been hired, the company’s first employee in the North American market, and that location scouting was in full swing, with the midwestern United States in pole position. That was in October 2009. Three years on, the plan will come to full fruition in October 2012, albeit with a southern inflection. The company opted to skip the harsh midwest winters and chose, instead, to set up operations in the more comfortable climes of Florida. Steripack expects to have ISO 13485 certification by October, at which time it will begin operations in earnest at its 40,000-sq-ft facility with a Class 100,000 cleanroom.
While the weather is a nice fringe benefit, there were more compelling business reasons to locate the plant in Lakeland, Florida, says Paolino. “The cost of real estate and the availability of a good labour pool helped. There are a lot of medical device companies down here. And there are two major international airports nearby: Orlando up north and Tampa down south. We can easily ship anywhere from here into other parts of the United States and into Latin America,” he adds. Business will be brisk, predicts Paolino, since “no one south of Philadelphia is doing quite what we are.”
Initially, the Florida facility will offer a full range of packaging products and services (slitting, printing lidding, header bags, pouches, Steribags that combine Tyvek and film in the header strip, and much more). Other contract services will be introduced to accommodate demand. And there is no risk of the company being boxed in at this location, notes Paolino. The facility sits on five acres of land, with plenty of room for expansion, and the amount of cleanroom space easily can be doubled, according to Paolino.
The Florida plant is the company’s third satellite location, after Poland and Malaysia. This global reach is one of the firm’s pillars of strength, says Paolino. “We bring solid, consistent performance, responsiveness and continuity to medical device OEMs around the world. In an emergency, God forbid, it’s an easy shift for us to move production to another facility. Our customers just need to spec it out, and we can get it done in Europe, Asia and now the United States. That’s what medical device OEMs are looking for,” says Paolino, and it’s what Steripack aims to deliver.Norbert Sparrow