Life Sciences Connections Lure Kalamazoo Firm

September 5, 2008
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GRAND RAPIDS — To meet the steadily growing demand for medical devices and supplies, Kalamazoo-based Keystone Manufacturing just opened a manufacturing operation in a facility on the southeast side of Grand Rapids. It houses offices, a warehouse and a clean-room.

The 18-month-old business, which is a subsidiary of Keystone Solutions Group, is leasing 9,000 square feet of space at 3710 Sysco Court SE for the manufacture, assembly, packing and distribution of medical devises and supplies.

Jim Medsker, principal of Keystone Solutions Group, said there were a number of reasons Keystone Manufacturing chose Grand Rapids as the location for its expansion. For one, the company is involved in the West Michigan Science and Technology Initiative and the West Michigan Medical Device Consortium.

“There is, quite frankly, a lot of activity in Grand Rapids and the surrounding area. Couple that with the fact that we found a very good deal on the facility itself,” Medsker explained. “Given the whole picture, it just made more sense to open a facility in Grand Rapids.”

Keystone Manufacturing is a nationwide contract manufacturer for large, original equipment manufacturers of medical devices that need someone to make their products, Medsker said. It manufactures everything from disposable medical products to Class I, Class II and Class III medical devices for OEMs. Everything Keystone Manufacturing produces is marketed and sold through its customers’ sales channels. Its Kalamazoo facility does very minimal manufacturing, assembly and packaging: It’s primarily a product engineering, design analysis and testing facility. 

Keystone Manufacturing has landed a lot of contracts in the year and a half it has been in existence, and there’s more work on the horizon, Medsker said. Two of the staff in Grand Rapids are transfers from the Kalamazoo facility and six are new hires. They include assemblers, packagers, quality and regulatory personnel, an engineer, an operations manager and administrative personnel. Medsker said he expects staff will grow to about 12 in the next six months and to 24 by next year. He said the company’s five-year plan shows that the manufacturing side could have about 35 employees,” he added.

Medsker said Keystone Manufacturing and parent company Keystone Solutions Group have benefited greatly from their affiliation with WMSTI and the West Michigan Medical Device Consortium.

“Both organizations have helped us greatly in making connections,” he remarked. “As a result of meetings and different forums that they’ve held, we do business with about three or four consortium members currently. I’m sure that without those forums, we wouldn’t have had exposure to those customers. We can’t say enough good about Linda Chamberlain (executive director of WMSTI) and Kim Bode (WMSTI marketing director). It’s been great working with their team.”

As a member of the medical device consortium, Keystone also gets exposure via Lambert Edwards & Associates, which handles public relations for consortium members. Chamberlain said Lambert Edwards is one of WMSTI’s virtual partners and WMSTI pays for its services. It’s a very specific service provided only to the 24 members of the West Michigan Medical Device Consortium, she said.

“The PR aspect of being in that group is great,” Medsker remarked. “We’re engineers and manufacturers, and we’ll be the first to admit that we’re not very good at marketing ourselves, so all the help we get from these groups is very beneficial.”

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