LINCOLNSHIRE, Ill.—FMI L.L.C. continues to expand in response to growth in the silicone contract manufacturing medical market.
The firm has relocated into a new 70,000-sq.-ft. building in Lincolnshire, about 25 minutes away from its previous facility and still in the Chicago area. The old site spanned three buildings and 22,000 square feet. The new site, which will be formally opened with a ribbon cutting on May 19, will consist of a 20,000-sq.-ft. Class 7 clean room, nearly quadrupling in size.
Financial details were not disclosed. The facility's clean room was certified at the end of March and ISO registration complete in April.
FMI is a subsidiary of Chicago-based Flexan L.L.C., which operates its own 65,000-sq.-ft. facility in Chicago focused on rubber molding for industrial applications.
In addition to consolidating its operations from three buildings under one roof, Mike Huiras, director of sales and marketing, said the firm simply needed more space. The new building will be able to house all of FMI's existing equipment, nearly 100 employees and still have room left to add more capacity.
"As we were looking to add capabilities, we've been successful with a number of projects that are upcoming, we realized we've outgrown our space," he said. "To facilitate and enhance our ability to continue to grow and serve customers, we knew we had to move to a new space."
FMI already plans to break into the silicone extrusion space with the addition of three new lines centered around silicone tubing. Flexan CEO Jim Fitzgerald said the lines will focus on a combination of catheter products that need a tube and other silicone tubing applications for medical devices.
The firm currently operates about 40 silicone molding lines that primarily focus on precision molded silicone components for tight tolerance applications—like components for pacemakers, defibrillators and long-term implantables.
The new site primarily will focus on the FMI business, but Fitzgerald said the firm might add a white room to house some of Flexan's industrial business that requires a higher containment area.
"Regardless of the growth, we saw an opportunity to become a more efficient organization," Fitzgerald said. "We were also adding some new manufacturing capabilities, both silicone extrusion and medical device assembly. We didn't have the space to offer either of those services in the structure that we had."
Location, location, location
FMI had a few key objectives when identifying a site: It needed a building that could handle its capacity plus give it some breathing room to add more business; it wanted to make minimal disruptions to its current work force's commute; and the firm sought to position itself in a favorable location to attract new talent.
There was also one other challenge.
"There's a lot of large warehouse facilities that would have accommodated what we needed," Huiras said, "but the other challenge was parking. We had to balance the size of the facility with the amount of parking for the personnel."