Week of January 5, 2004
from Site Selection's exclusive New Plant database
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Merit Medical's $25M UtahBy JACK LYNE, Site Selection Executive Editor of Interactive Publishing
Expansion Could Add 500 Jobs
SOUTH JORDAN, Utah Merit Medical Systems (www.merit.com) has come a long way, baby, since the ideas for the company were first sketched out on a napkin inside a Wendy's fast-food outlet in Utah:
Continuing its napkins-to-riches rise, the disposable medical products manufacturer is adding as many as 500 jobs - which would almost double its total work force - in a 180,000-sq.-ft. (16,200-sq.-m.) expansion in South Jordan, Utah. And Merit Medical is now so financially robust that it's planning to fund the $25-million project out of projected cash flow.
"This is the next step for our growth, allowing for better efficiency and utilization of space," said Chairman and Chief Executive Fred Lampropoulos, It was Lampropoulos, along with Merit Medical CFO Kent Stanger, who sat down in 1987 and jotted down the concepts that spurred the creation of a company that's now riding a strong upsurge.
"This new facility will add 300 to 500 new jobs here in Utah over the next few years as we grow into the space," Lampropoulos said at the expansion groundbreaking at the 32-acre (13-hectare) site that's the company's primary manufacturing location.
The project, which will involve building two new facilities, will double the amount of manufacturing space at the location in the Salt Lake City metro. (For a look at other expansion action in the metro area, see the accompanying sidebar, "Expansion Spiraling Upward in Salt Lake City.")
Sensor Fab Will AlsoMerit Medical began its existence with a single product, a specialized control syringe used to inject contrast solution into patients' arteries for angiograms. Today, the company makes more than 2,000 proprietary medical devices, most of them used in cardiology and radiology procedures.
Move into New Space
The Utah expansion will primarily add injection-molding and electronics manufacturing. Lampropoulos said that $20 million of the company's projected capital investment would go into construction, with another $5 million going into equipment.
The added space will also house a sensor-fabrication facility, which Merit Medical will relocate from its current location in Santa Clara, Calif. The 25-employee Santa Clara facility is part of subsidiary Merit Sensor Systems, which makes pressure sensors that are used in high-volume medical instrumentation.
Sensor production "will become the fastest-growing part of our business," Lampropoulos projected. All of the California workers are being offered transfers, he added.
Merit Medical will also use the new space to consolidate some 150 employees who're now working in the nearby city of Murray. The consolidation will cut costs, as well as strengthening the linkages between development, production, distribution and delivery, said Lampropoulos.
The expansion should be completed by December 2004, he added.
No. 43 on Forbes 'BestThe Utah expansion underscores Merit Medical's deep roots in the Beehive State. The company has its headquarters complex at another location in South Jordan, and 900 of its 1,200 total employees are in Utah.
Small Companies in America'
Merit Medical has other manufacturing facilities in Angleton, Texas; Galway, Ireland; and Salt Lake City. The company is currently adding a 40,000-sq.-ft. (3,600-sq.-m.) expansion at its Irish plant to increase R&D and production space.
The company's $116.2 million in revenues in fiscal 2002 marked an 11.7-percent increase. "We will be able to pay for this [project] out of our existing cash flow," Lampropoulos said of the Utah expansion.
Merit Medical's strong growth recently landed it for the third year in a row on Forbes' listing of "The 200 Best Small Companies in America." The Utah firm ranked No. 43 in the magazine's 2003 hierarchy, a move up of 10 spots from its 2002 slot. Forbes' rankings of more than 3,500 small companies with 12-month sales of between $5 million and $600 million are based on sales growth, earnings and return on equity.
Co-founder Lampropoulos has also seen his fortunes spiral upward. Now a multimillionaire, the Merit Medical chairman and chief executive is now mulling over making a run for the Republican nomination for the Utah governor's race.
President George Bush (R) in August tapped Utah's Republican Gov. Mike Leavitt to head the Environmental Protection Agency. In November, Olene S. Walker, Leavitt's lieutenant governor, was sworn in as Utah's 15th governor, the first woman to hold the post.
©2004 Conway Data, Inc. All rights reserved. Data is from many sources and is not warranted to be accurate or current.