A tripling in sales during the last fiscal year has spurred CardioTech International Inc. into expanding a major portion of its four-division, three-plant operation.
The urethane medical device maker plans to almost double the manufacturing space at its Plymouth, Minn., facility, expanding the site to 11,000 from 6,000 square feet. The company's Catheter and Disposables Technology Inc. subsidiary develops and makes products, primarily urethane-based, for original equipment manufacturers.
CardioTech is planning to increase the plant's work force of 25 by about 10 in the next year because sales are expected to rise 50 percent, according to Chairman and CEO Michael Szycher.
In March the company also moved its headquarters, CT Biomaterials Inc. unit and DermaPhylyx Inc. subsidiary from a leased 11,000-sq.-ft. building in Woburn, Mass., to a 24,000-sq.-ft. structure it purchased in Wilmington.
The move was made because the firm needed additional room to handle its wound dressing and urethane raw materials businesses, which are growing rapidly, and its old quarters had become too small to deal with the work load, Szycher said. CT Biomaterials Inc. produces a line of implantable urethane elastomers, synthesized to customer specifications, while DermaPhylyx concentrates on wound dressings.
In addition, the firm's Gish Biomedical Inc. subsidiary is going through a growth spurt of its own-adding machinery and personnel-at its Rancho Santa Margarita, Calif., factory.
CardioTech bought most of the new machinery from a startup company that folded and put the equipment up for sale at a bankruptcy auction, Szycher said. Gish added about 20 people to its work force, giving it approximately 150 employees and CardioTech 185.
``We've had extraordinary growth during the last (fiscal) year,'' ended March 31, Szycher said, when CardioTech re-corded about $21 million in sales, up from $3.4 million the previous year. ``We expect more growth in 2004. We think it will be a very good year.'' Gish accounted for about $17 million of the revenues.
CardioTech acquired Gish and its 76,000-sq.-ft. plant in Rancho Santa Margarita in April 2003 for about $7.6 million in stock to expand its medical device production base and give it a leadership presence in the open-heart surgery goods market, the chairman and CEO said.
Among the many products Gish makes is a pump that takes the place of the heart during an operation, Szycher said. The pump's tubing is made of various polymers and liquid urethane is used to hold the device's housing.
The division makes a wide variety of other goods, including oxygenators, blood reservoirs, central venous access catheters and ports, cardiovascular tubing systems, and blood recovery devices for post-operative use in orthopedic surgeries.
CardioTech established a sound foundation in the medical products industry in August 2001 when it purchased Catheter and Disposables Technology and its factory for an undisclosed amount to vertically integrate its patented urethane biomaterials into the business.
CDT designs, develops and manufactures cardiovascular tubing systems, arterial filters, oxygenators, cardioplegia delivery systems and oxygen saturation monitors. It focuses on catheters and medical products based on molded and extruded components. The majority of its goods are custom-made for OEMs.
Meanwhile, DermaPhylyx slowly has developed and expanded its moist wound dressing business. The dressings are derived from advanced polymer technology and manufacturing processes, Szycher said. And CT Biomaterials continues to broaden its family of urethane-tailored compounds, he added.
In mid-March, CardioTech unveiled what it said is a space-age urethane self-adhering dressing aimed at active sports enthusiasts. Called BlistRx, it prevents blisters, sore spots and calluses, the firm claimed.
``BlistRx is based on a microporous, breathable and elastic urethane membrane which could be called an artificial skin designed especially for the heel, foot, toes and hands,'' Szycher said. ``We believe the market for this product to be about $50 million worldwide.''
In another move aimed at expanding its sales base and building the DermaPhylyx brand identity, the firm is offering all three of its wound care products-HydroMed, AlgiMed and BlistRx-through the company's Web site, www.dermaphylyx.com. That allows DermaPhylyx to ship directly to customers, said Christopher Connerty, the unit's product and distribution manager.
One product CardioTech would love to see on the market is its urethane coronary artery bypass graft. However, it's still in the testing stage, ``which will take years to complete,'' Szycher said. The company also has a proprietary urethane stent in the works, which is about to enter the animal testing stage.