But there was reason to be cautious. In the past, PMC explored the telecommunications market, making housings for cell phones and other devices. That market soon shifted offshore to Asia, creating an imbalance of business growth for PMC.
The company was given confidence to overcome its hesitation when a customer said PMC could excel in the medical device industry. Though PMC had not yet dipped its toes in that pool, this customer had faith and moved forward with PMC during its journey.
This included identifying relevant business segments and building quality systems.
“The biggest challenge and opportunity is how do we take this amazing business with the very special talents that we have, find the right places in the medical device industry to focus those and then pursue new customer relationships and new application areas to focus in,” Jennings says.
Utilizing its strength in narrowly defined niches, PMC had the benefit of being a company with more highly valued and targeted capabilities versus broad, commoditized parts. The company, however, still had lots of work ahead of it.
Before pursuing medical device customers, PMC made a significant investment in its Shelbyville, Indiana, plant. Located 30 miles southeast of Indianapolis, the 70,000-square-foot facility supplies products to its global automotive customers. The facility was updated to be Food and Drug Administraion registered for medical device clean room manufacturing of implants and finished surgical devices. Products for its medical device customers are now manufactured there as well.
“That’s a big step for somebody to take and commitment for somebody to make,” Jennings says. “But the credibility that it lent when we brought the first customers in was phenomenal. It showed the commitment that we were serious.”
Play to your strength
For PMC, its specialty is specialization. It knew that attacking the entire medical device market was not realistic, so the company focused on leveraging what it already did well.
“A big reason for our success was we knew we were highly experienced in high-temperature materials,” Jennings says. “And because of that, we made a decision to go straight into implant molding, so we actually mold screws and nails and things that are used in sports medicine and orthopedic procedures.”
Not only did its philosophy of specialization pay off, but its experience in automotive went a long way to ease the concerns customers might have had with a new player in the market.