Respiratory product maker Avion Medical Corp. plans to construct a factory in Poland to handle its growing business and prepare for opportunities arising in Europe and Asia.
The company-one of two businesses that make up MMS L.L.C., which is part of the Morris group of companies headquartered in Noble, Okla.-will build a plant in the 50,000- to 60,000-sq.-ft. range. That is significantly larger than the 15,000-sq.-ft. facility it currently operates in Swinoujscie, Poland, according to Walter J. Morris, chairman of the Morris group.
Breathing bag manufacturer Morris Latex Products Inc., the group's flagship operation, also has added an automatic oven along with strip and test equipment at its plant in Noble, he said.
The new equipment ``gives us the capability to go 100-percent synthetic (at the Noble site),'' Morris said at the International Latex Conference, held July 25-26 in Charlotte, N.C. ``Right now, we're 60-percent synthetic latex and 40-percent (natural rubber) latex. Now we can go all synthetic if we want.''
The additions mark the 11th time in 12 years Morris Latex has expanded physically or internally. Financial details of the plant expansion and new machinery weren't released.
Morris said Avion expected to close the deal on the land purchase in Poland this month, with construction slated to begin in October. He figures the plant should be complete in five or six months.
The new factory will be located about 35 miles from its present respiratory device facility.
``Poland is one of the countries of choice for the Euro,'' Morris said. ``We pay in Polish money and sell in U.S. dollars, which enables us to grow quickly. Europe from a marketing and population standpoint is the same as the U.S., so there's money to be made there.''
While it primarily is a respiratory goods operation, down the line Morris said the plant probably will make tubing.
``This will increase our volume at the plant, and it will expand our presence in Europe significantly,'' he said. ``I think we'll be able to triple our sales in 12 months and possibly quadruple all our sales within 15-18 months.''
Morris anticipates that eventually the factory will be set up to receive neoprene or natural rubber latex breathing bags made at the Noble site for distribution in Europe and Asia.
Avion and three other companies were purchased by Morris Latex in June 2003. The four businesses were combined into two-one in Poland, the other in Mexico-with MMS managing both operations. After serving as executive vice president of MMS for two years, David A. Morris was named president of the operation. At the same time, Timothy J. Morris became president of Morris Latex, where he served for a number of years as executive vice president. Both are sons of Walter Morris.
Timothy and David Morris had been running their companies for some time, the senior Morris said, and the natural progression was for each to carry the president title, too.
Morris Latex currently is experimenting with other synthetic materials at its Noble site, Walter Morris said. ``This will help us down the line. We're always looking to grow and expand.''
He indicated, too, that the company has other expansion possibilities on its plate, but didn't elaborate.