April 3, 2009

Medical Manufacturer Trumpf Plans $5.6M Expansion, New jobs

Katy Stech  /  Post and Courier

A medical equipment maker plans to invest $5.6 million and create 29 jobs by expanding and relocating within Berkeley County to keep up with expected growth in the health care industry.

German-owned Trumpf Medical Systems Inc. announced plans Thursday to build a larger facility off Clements Ferry Road, near its existing local headquarters on Jessen Lane. The company expects to relocate its offices, manufacturing and showroom this fall and add to its payroll over the next three years.

President Andy Reding said that the medical industry isn't immune from the recession, noting that consumers are putting off elective surgeries and that borrowing costs for hospitals have risen. But he said that Trumpf's expansion makes sense because of the long-term population shift to the south, upgrades to existing medical centers and the growing demand for health-care services from the aging baby boom population. "We're definitely not insulated, but we think demand will sustain long-term growth in health care," Reding said.

The company now employs 18 workers in Charleston, a mix of warehouse employees, sales representatives, marketing executives and mechanical engineers. Trumpf is working to modernize equipment for surgical centers, such as operating room tables and lighting systems, Reding said.

For example, it developed special overhead light panels that don't generate as much heat as conventional bulbs and that can change colors to a surgeon's preference. The company is selling overhead, high-definition cameras that can record surgical procedures for documentation or educational purposes. Through the expansion, local workers will begin assembling parts imported from Germany into complete surgery room sets. That will save on shipping costs and reduce customer wait times, officials said.

Trumpf's future home in Cainhoy Park will be about 27,000 square feet and sit on 2.5 acres. The building could be expanded to nearly 50,000 square feet, if necessary. "We do need the economy to pick back up to ensure more projects in the future," Reding said.

Most of Trumpf's clients are spread throughout the Southeast, Northeast and Texas. Locally, the company will outfit Roper St. Francis Healthcare's new 85-bed Mount Pleasant hospital, which is under construction near the Park West neighborhood and is set to opening in late 2010.

Reding said it picked Charleston for the expansion instead of other Trumpf sites in Connecticut, New Jersey and Michigan partly because of the South's cheaper business costs. He cited the growing local cluster of medical technology firms, the work force, and the proximity of a major seaport.

"With today's economy, this announcement is more important than ever," said Jim Bryan, chairman of the Charleston Regional Development Alliance, which promotes the area to employers.

Trumpf Medical said job openings related to the expansion of its Charleston operations will be posted on its its Web site, Trump Medical