5 secrets of contract manufacturing longevity

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Whether it’s a few decades or the better part of a century, there are important factors that enable a contract manufacturer to last for a long time – business traits that OEM customers should value. We asked top executives from long-lasting medical device industry suppliers to share their secrets. 

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[Image from Unsplash]

Mike Ondercin started Cleveland-based Criterion as a tool-and-dye company in 1953. Today Criterion is a precision manufacturing facility owned by Ondercin’s granddaughter Tanya DiSalvo – who bought out the former owner, her dad.

The company doubled its employee roster over the last 5 years, to about 40 people. That constant growth has Criterion bringing in $15 million to $20 million in sales a year, according to DiSalvo.

“The sales have grown by really working with our customers and being their go-to source. We had to earn the right with engineers that shows that we can deliver and provide added value services,” she explained.

Contract manufacturers like Criterion that have demonstrated their ability to last are highly prized in the medical device industry – especially because the highly regulated environment makes it difficult to change suppliers.

There are many other medical device industry suppliers with their own stories of success:

  • Since its 1967 founding, Donatelle (New Brighton, MN) has grown into a contract manufacturer producing complex and precision components and assemblies for medical devices. “The founders and owners of Donatelle have been committed to excellence in technology, quality and workmanship since the very beginning,” president Treasa Springett told us. “Their passion for excellence and precision is still the foundation of our business today and what has paved the way for continuous growth and success over the past 50 years.”
  • Richard Tully started MTD Micro Molding (Charlton, Mass.) in his basement in 1972; the company’s original name was Miniature Tool & Die. It graduated into different niches over time, eventually venturing into the then-little-known niche of micro molds in 1998. The niche became so important that the company changed its name in 2010, focusing exclusively on micro medical devices. Revenue quickly grew, to $8.5 million this year. After Tully retired, his son Dennis Tully took over. “The growth that we are experiencing now is attributable to the seeds we planted 4 or 5 years ago,” the younger Tully said.
  • Lee Carver founded Sil-Pro (Delano, Minn.) in 1998, centered around molding components for medical devices. Lee’s son, Kevin Carver, has been involved with the company since its inception and is now president. “Sil-Pro has grown substantially over the years, and we currently have approximately 350 team members. We’ve seen 25%-plus growth year after year,” Kevin said. “[We’ve been] eager and hungry to take on business with customers and along with that, [we] continuously introduce new segments to our business to fuel growth as well.”
  • Infus Medical has exclusively served the medical device industry since its 1991 founding. The Thailand-based company started with just 25 employees and has grown to employ approximately 1,000 workers. Infus has constantly updated its processes, an important reason it has been around so long, noted Prim Chanarat, a product engineer at Infus who has watched her dad run the company for the last 26 years. “Our facilities’ versatile machinery and assembly and packaging processes – such as our in-house plastic conversion machines, blister packaging and ETO sterilization chambers – have enabled us to encompass a large product portfolio that is constantly growing,” Chanarat said.

So what are the traits that lead to contract manufacturing longevity – aspects of the business that OEM customers should try to spot? Here are 5 things that enabled Criterion, Donatelle, MTD Micro Molding, Sil-Pro and Infus Medical to be around for so long.

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