October 30, 2009

Trumpf Trumped By Boeing

Warren Wise  /  Post and Courier

A Daniel Island medical-equipment maker was all set to show off its new $5.6 million building on the banks of the Cooper River to South Carolina's chief executive officer this week.

A top official of the Trumpf Group flew in from Germany for the occasion. And Gov. Mark Sanford was scheduled to speak.

Tours of the state-of-the-art Trumpf Medical Systems facility started at 5 p.m. Wednesday, the precise time that the Boeing Co. announced it had selected North Charleston as the site of a 787 assembly plant that's expected to create several thousand jobs.

The long-anticipated announcement eclipsed Trumpf's plans. The governor had to cancel – he was talking about airplanes at the Statehouse in Columbia – but the show went on anyway.

"Obviously, we had no control over it," Trumpf spokesman Dave Rector said Thursday.

The company also had no hard feelings about the Boeing splash.

"It's a tremendous event for Charleston, and we are all happy about it," Rector said. "We recognize the value in it. Likewise, we recognize the growth we have here, and the growth we have planned."

What Sanford missed out on was a new 27,000-square-foot facility with floor-to-ceiling glass all around offering views of the Cooper River. Inside, Trumpf employees design and make medical products used in hospital operating rooms, critical care units and emergency departments.

The state-of-the-art building also allows the German-owned company to showcase its wares to clients in a special setting. A mock operating room and intensive-care unit show customers who are interested in Trumpf's products how they will work, Rector said.

"People from all over the country and all over the world will come here to plan what their operating room and critical care facility will look like," Rector said. "It's like a planning and development center."

Hospitals don't send just one person to evaluate new products, he noted: "They send a whole committee of nurses, surgeons, hospital administrators, equipment planners and architects. That means more visitors to Charleston."

Trumpf has 40 employees now, but plans to add 29 more within three years. Its 2.5-acre Charleston location off Clements Ferry Road has plenty of room for expansion.

"We can go up or out," Rector said of the single-story structure.

Trumpf's products include modular surgical and system tables, surgical lights, ceiling-mounted equipment management systems and "No lift" patient transfer and transport devices.

Trumpf Medical chose to replace its former headquarters nearby and keep it in Charleston because of the growing cluster of health-care technology firms, a strong local talent base, the port and a destination that's attractive to potential customers, said Andy Reding, president and chief executive officer.

"Based on our experience here, we ultimately decided Charleston offered the best overall environment to support our long-term success," Reding said.