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Plastics One gets Contract
|Articles : Plastics One gets Contract|
PLASTICS ONE GETS CONTRACT
By Jeff Sturgeon of the Roanoke Times
The Roanoke Valley company has grown, becoming a supplier of medical equipment worldwide. Carilion Biomedical Institute said it has created nine jobs by persuading a Richmond-area company to give work to a Roanoke County company.
Sleepmate Technologies of Midlothian confirmed that it has hired Plastics One Inc. of Southwest Roanoke County to produce sensors for sleep analysis. Sleepmate is a big name in sleep sensors and has been in the business for 15 years.
Sleepmate had said in October it would shift all of its manufacturing to the valley this month, but declined at the time to name Plastics One. Sleepmate first had to end a long-standing arrangement with a manufacturer outside the United States. In a flip side to the worrisome pattern of American jobs going overseas, some overseas jobs have now come to the valley, and institute officials are touting their role.
The biomedical institute is a business assistance and research grant-making organization trying to expand business opportunities and jobs in biomedical technology and life sciences in Southwest Virginia, where many see technology as the best bet to transform an economy dependent on traditional manufacturing. The Sleepmate investment is one of a small number of recent successes, institute officials say. To gear up for the Sleepmate contract, Plastics One hired seven people in manufacturing and two in engineering, said John Richardson, Plastics One vice president. Although the people in the new positions won't work exclusively on Sleepmate projects, they will devote a lot of time to it and Plastics One has no shortage of other things for them to do, Richardson said. At the time of the first announcement, a company official said that Sleepmate would be paying its new Roanoke Valley manufacturer an initial fee of $800,000 for the work.
Carilion Biomedical Institute is a partnership among Carilion Health System, Virginia Tech and the University of Virginia. Daniel Barchi, its president and chief executive, said that he met Sleepmate officials through the Virginia Biotechnology Association. The institute has since formed a partnership with Sleepmate's founder and chairman, Steve Burton, and some of his companies.
Burton said that he had known of Plastics One and of the Roanoke Valley, but took a closer look after talking with the institute about the services it had to offer. The relationship already is multidimensional. Burton's separate medical device company, PhysioAdvantage LLC of Midlothian, has been assigned to work in the valley testing medical devices in connection with the health system. One device is a body temperature-gauging skin patch that PhysioAdvantage is developing as an alternative to temperature probes inserted in the body. The other is a home sleep test to identify whether people anticipating surgery have sleep apnea so needed precautions can be taken. Patients will be allowed to choose for themselves whether to participate in device testing, Carilion spokesman Eric Earnhart said.
Plastics One is a private, 230-employee manufacturer with many medically oriented contracts and customers. It sells to Sleepmate's competitors. And it sold Sleepmate's former manufacturer components for the items that company produced for Sleepmate, Richardson said. Now Plastics One makes the whole item. "We're impressed with their management team, their facility and their abilities," said Sleepmate President Scott Cardozo. Cardozo said that Sleepmate has about 30 percent of the market for sleep sensors, which are body-monitoring devices worn by patients spending the night in a sleep laboratory. A sleep laboratory is used to diagnose sleeping problems, such as sleep apnea, or persistent waking due to an airway obstruction.
On Tuesday, two employees hand-built Sleepmate sensors at Plastics One. The women joined short lengths of wire to form a temperature sensor worn beneath the nose to monitor breathing. Sleepmate has hired Plastics One to make eight or nine different products for delivery this month and 12 or 13 next month. "There are about 50 altogether," said Plastics One's Steve Heckman, senior research and development engineer. "That will probably go up over time."
Web site: www.plastics1.com
Location: 6591 Merriman Road S.W., Roanoke, VA 24018 (540) 772-7950.
Sturgeon, Jeff. "Plastics One Gets Contract" (January 19) 19 January 05. The Roanoke Times Archives