CHICAGO—After a busy 2015 where Flexan Corp. got both a new owner and a new leader, the firm has set the foundation to reach new heights.
After Linden Capital Partners L.L.C., a private equity firm with a focus on the health care industry, acquired Flexan in early 2015, Jim Fitzgerald was appointed CEO in June. He replaced Scott Severson, who chose to retire and remains a member of the firm's board.
Fitzgerald began his career with Baxter Healthcare in 1991, serving as a sales associate. While the firm transitioned into Allegiance Healthcare and then Cardinal Health, Fitzgerald moved into management positions during his 16 years there. He became the CEO of silicone medical goods producer Vesta Inc. in 2008, spending five years helping RoundTable Healthcare Partners take the firm from a single-platform organization to an international platform.
Lubrizol Corp. purchased Vesta in August of 2014.
The good news for Flexan is that Fitzgerald intends to bring that same approach. The better news for him is that the firm already has a head start. Flexan has been present in China for more than a decade and recently completed an expansion that added 55,000 square feet to its operation. Its primary facility in China consists of a 35,000-sq.-ft. facility with about 225 employees. Fitzgerald said Flexan will manufacture more than 100 million units out of its Chinese facility in 2016.
“We have some really good fundamental strengths in quality and engineering, and we have some really good understanding of raw materials,” he said. “The first thing that we're going to look to do is to grow our market share by expanding into either some additional customers or some adjacent segments that would also benefit from the work that we're currently doing. I think that we've been a little bit narrow in our approach as an organization that was sort of gradually improving. So we're going to look to accelerate our focus, get out and sell our approach to some new customers.”
With Flexan, Fitzgerald will be exposed to some new industries. The firm has two rubber product manufacturing units—the FMI side focusing on making silicone components for the medical device market, and the Flexan side for industrial applications. Based in Chicago, its 65,000-sq.-ft. operation houses the industrial business while FMI is located at a 20,000-sq.-ft. facility nearby. The company employs about 275 in its Chicago operations.
Bruce Cohen remains president of Flexan while Frank Sullivan continues to run FMI.
Flexan has both industrial and medical capabilities in China as the 35,000-sq.-ft. building is complete with a clean room. Fitzgerald said the firm is beginning to add capacity to its new building. He said the company has seen an expanded interest in liquid silicone molding in China for some of the components that historically have been using high consistency rubber.
“It's a huge advantage,” Fitzgerald said of the Chinese operation, “not only the fact that we're there, but the length of time that we've been there. We have an established team with a general manager who has run the operation for more than a decade.
“That's been a big driver in our ability to be successful—when you have evidence of your ability that you're going to do what you're going to say you'll do and you can showcase that with work that's actually being done gives your current and prospective customers a greater degree of confidence.”