Pandemic boosts demand for medical products from the Près Isle manufacturer
A metal goods manufacturer formed with a plant in Près Isle has seen demand for one of its medical devices increase due to the pandemic.
Acme Monaco Corp. is on track to produce 4 million of its medical guidewires this year, up from 3 million in 2019.
“We’ve hired,” Rebecca Karabin-Ahern, the company’s co-president, told Mainebiz.
Acme Monaco was founded in 1947 in New Britain, Connecticut, and opened its Près Isle manufacturing facility in 1989.
At the time, Karabin-Ahern said, “We looked up and down the east coast and the local chairman of the industrial council was the only man on the east coast who reminded my dad when we were looking for places to grow. .”
The company opened a third factory in Singapore in 2007. Today, Acme Monaco is one of the world’s largest manufacturers of orthodontic wires, among its products.
“If you know someone who wears braces, chances are it’s our guideline in their mouth,” Karabin-Ahern said.
It is also a major producer of guide wires for catheters. Guides are the devices that have been in high demand this year.
“Productivity has increased a lot because our orders have increased significantly,” she said. “We are very busy producing catheter guides. »
Acme Monaco is an essential supplier of products to the medical device industry, manufacturing devices for use in neurology, urology, cardiology and vascular procedures.
The company began to see an increase in demand in June from hospitals around the world, Karabin-Ahern said.
Catheter guidewires are used in a variety of applications. For example, they are used to introduce stents and feeding tubes into the body.
“The wire goes in first, the catheter goes over it, and then the wire is pulled out,” she explained. “It guides the catheter.”
The pandemic has caused an increase in demand, as patients who were very sick from COVID-19 and on ventilators may leave ventilators with other medical issues such as heart problems.
“So our wires are needed for the catheterization of these patients,” Karabin-Ahern said.
The company has long-standing customers around the world and has seen orders increase in sync with disease outbreaks in various countries. It started in Asia, then progressed to Europe in the spring and summer.
“During the summer, as it was coming to Brazil, our big customers there were placing huge orders,” she said.
As some countries experience a second wave of illness, “all of a sudden customers are saying, ‘Make my 100,000 pieces order 200,000 pieces,'” she said.
To keep pace, the company is looking to hire about 35 employees across its three plants. It employs just over 200 people in the three factories. In Près Isle, it has about 50 employees, but usually has 75.
“Some people have retired,” she says. “But we’ve been in growth mode and we’ve been hiring.”
The company works with local career centers and temp agencies. In Près Isle, he organized a job fair at the factory in September, where people could apply in person and be interviewed on the spot. But the timing was unfortunate.
“It was during the harvest, which was a mistake,” Karabin-Ahern said. “So we’ll try to do it again, hopefully in November.”
It also works with the Aroostook County Action Program, whose services include Workforce Development; and advertising with local broadcast stations. Positions include quality control inspectors, machine operators, and medical assembly, custodial, shipping, and receiving operators. The company offers an apprenticeship program and additional training to help employees advance their careers, she said.
In a March letter to customers, the company said it was monitoring the entire supply chain of raw materials, components and service providers to mitigate any potential supply disruptions.