While many manufacturers have sought out overseas factories with cheap labor, land and supplies, SchureMed remains something of an outlier as a manufacturer who has kept every step of the production process here at home.
SchureMed, the company Peter Schuerch founded in a Quincy basement in 1994, has outgrown three spaces in the last 10 years, moving from Quincy to Braintree and most recently to Abington.
The medical hardware manufacturer quadrupled its physical plant in the latest expansion, and beefed up its payroll and labor force by 30 percent.
While many manufacturers have sought out overseas factories with cheap labor, land and supplies, Schuerch remains something of an outlier as a manufacturer who has kept every step of the production process here at home.
“We have complete control over the whole process. We can speed up from idea to prototype to bringing something to market very quickly,” said Schuerch, who grew up in Houghs Neck and graduated from Quincy College.
“If this was done in China, we’d have to buy 10,000 items of something just to get one piece,” he said.
Instead, when Schuerch and his team of designers need a particular shape and size of a steel bolt or plastic handle, they just build it from scratch, creating a 3-dimensional model on the computer and sending the image downstairs to a machinist who programs a milling machine the size of a compact car to cut the single part from blocks of raw material.
It’s a nimble advantage, and the American-made label is also part of Schuerch’s marketing pitch – stamped boldly on the outside of the 68-page catalog mailed to hospitals and surgeons.
Many of the goods that Schuerch and his company make are geared for surgeons and nurses with a specific and critical goal – stabilizing parts of the body before a scalpel or laparoscopic needle penetrates the skin.
In medical lingo, it’s called patient positioning, and Schuerch’s latest product locks the shoulder into place.
Made from stainless steel and aircraft grade aluminum, the contraption looks like a long, thin robot arm with six different elbows. With the press of a trigger on the arm, the elbows disengage, allowing doctors to move a patient’s arm and shoulder into exactly the right position.
“It’s called the Schureloc XPS,” said Schuerch, who will unveil the new product at trade shows this winter and spring.
The item will occupy one of the pricier echelons in the catalog, selling for about $15,000. Schuerch, who said annual sales at SchureMed total around $3 million, hopes to sell between 300 and 400 of the shoulder locks next year.
With his new 37,000 square-foot office and factory space in Abington, Schuerch aims to triple sales in the next three years. He hired three new machinists and a vice-president in the last year, bringing total employees to 17.
SchureMed competes with a goliath in the business of medical supplies, Springfield-based Hill-Rom, Inc., which had $1.63 billion in sales last year, according to its annual report.
“We have better products and higher quality,” said Schuerch. “And the market needed an alternate source because that company had a monopoly. Now (doctors and hospitals) can choose and try our products.”
Clients include surgical hospital and outpatient surgery centers and military and veterans’ hospitals across the U.S., and SchureMed products are also exported to 20 countries, said Schuerch.
Schuerch started his business while he was working as a medical assistant in an operating room at South Shore Hospital. After watching how hospital staff used a disposable biohazard bag to transfer patients from one bed to another, Schuerch took a crayon and a sheet of plastic and designed his first product – the SchureSlide, a reusable plastic sheet with handles.
“I didn’t have any idea how to sell this thing,” he said of that original product. “But then I got my first customer and I had a sales channel ... I still communicate with nurses, doctors and anesthesiologists to stay up on what their needs are today.”
Above his desk hangs a photo of his grandfather, Bob Schuerch, standing outdoors and wearing a U.S. Navy cap with a black brim.
“My grandfather lived next door and he’d have me come over to his workshop,” said Schuerch. Under his grandfather’s watch, Schuerch became a budding craftsman. “I could never afford to buy anything so I’d just go an build it,” he said.
“BMX bikes, a hockey goal. I’d take things apart and put it back together.”
By Chris Burrell | Posted Jan 4, 2014 | Article link
Chris Burrell may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow on Twitter @Burrell_Ledger.