The European medical device market has much to gain from a specialist provider of coatings being available to meet increasingly specific requests.
However, there can be issues with importing products from the US due to the differences in regulations between the different markets, with added costs, and delays in products arriving because of potential hold-ups at borders.
“The European market is thriving, and a lot of companies are desperate for coating options,” explains Todd Paulsen, vice-president of Formacoat, US-based coatings specialists. “It’s hard to get supplies from the United States back to them and back and forth. So, they’re tied to whatever vendors are over there and they might be missing out on the perfect coating.”
To address these issues and ensure that medical clients get the coatings that they need, Formacoat is exploring setting up a base in Ireland. This could dramatically shorten lead times for European customers and also reduce import costs.
“For us to go over there would make a lot of sense because the process would be so streamlined,” adds Paulsen. “The cost savings from shipping back and forth and the time savings would be astronomical. So, for us that makes good sense.
“We really want to better help our European customers. Being over on the side of the ocean and having a production facility over there would help everybody.”
Maintaining the Formacoat Formula overseas
Formacoat offers an extensive range of medical device coatings from its base in Minnesota. Having started as an operation from the garage of founder and CEO, Mark Gross, Formacoat has experienced exponential growth. The company moved into a purpose-built facility almost four years ago, thinking it would be a sufficient size to house the company’s operations for several years. However, such has been the success of the company that it has already purchased a second facility in Minnesota it has begun to set its sights on Ireland.
“We don’t make our own coatings,” adds Paulsen. “But we represent almost every coating of the spectrum in the market. It’s a ‘one shop stop’ kind of thing.”
While Formacoat’s plans for Ireland are still in the early stages of determining the optimum location for a facility, the company attracted a lot of attention when it exhibited at the Medical Technology Ireland Expo and Conference in Galway in September this year.
The company has a unique identity in the industry, unafraid to experiment to find the optimum coatings for a medical device. Innovators willing to think outside the box have helped make Formacoat the company it is today. The Formacoat Formula of asking potential customers: ‘What do you want and why?’ cuts straight to the point and has proven highly effective in determining application requirements.
Consequently, finding the right personalities and expertise is another key consideration for setting up a facility in Ireland. Paulsen says he has been thinking about how best to replicate the Formacoat culture in another country.
“We’re not your typical corporate business structure to work within. Duplicating that kind of magic is important to us. I realised right off the bat that we’ve oftentimes found talent from local universities and colleges. Kids who are just coming off the line and are excited and driven. Mark has a good relationship with his alma mater. We’ve hired several folks from that college that have come in and just done Gangbuster work for us,” adds Paulsen.
“One of the things that I did when I was over is I met with the two universities that are in Galloway, to talk about referral programmes where we can bring in some of that local talent, that younger talent in that’s going to be able to drive that creative Formacoat Formula into a European-type of model. Some of us will have to go over there to set things up and set the tone.”
As Formacoat continues to reconstruct the world of contract medical device coatings, the company may have to update its “Formacoat Formula”. “What do you want and why?” may become: “What do you want? Why do you want it? And where do you need it to happen?”
To learn more about the extensive coating solutions Formacoat offers for medical devices, download the document below.