By Dan Spalding
WARSAW – In a move rarely seen in business, Medtronic has lined up another medical device company to use its Warsaw facility that it is slowly vacating.
On Wednesday, Feb. 23, Medtronic informed Warsaw Mayor Joe Thallmer of the development and Thallemer then issued a statement Thursday morning, Feb. 24, to the media after gaining permission from the company.
In the note to Thallemer, Medtronic said they recently signed a letter of intent with Autocam Medical to lease the building along US 30 in phases.
Autocam is a global contract manufacturer of precision surgical and medical components and devices with headquarters near Grand Rapids, Mich.
No timetable or details were released.
The announcement represents a relatively quick turnaround of events after the Minnesota-based world leader in the medical device field announced in October 2021 its plans to shift production from Warsaw to other locations.
While Medtronic indicated they would consider relocating some of its employees as part of the move, the upcoming exit left many of its local employees – believed to be around 200 – with an uncertain future.
Thallemer said he and a few others were aware that something was coming together.
He was ecstatic about the move.
“The stars kind of aligned in our community,” Thallemer said. “It shows the resiliency of the orthopedic industry in our community and the importance of having that Warsaw address.”
When Medtronic’s exit plan was announced, Thallemer immediately raised the idea of finding a new tenant in the plant but was somewhat doubtful because of the phase-out approach Medtronic was using.
The arrangement, though, appears to be a near-perfect fit.
Some of the work both companies do is similar and Medtronic said Autocam Medical has expressed interest in potentially hiring former Medtronic Warsaw employees as Autocam Medical’s presence in Warsaw grows.
Thallemer was under the impression both companies could be working side by side for a short while.
“They’re going to allow another company to come in while they are still there,” Thallemer said. “I’d say that’s a pretty innovative way to divest some real estate … I don’t know if I’ve ever heard of that.”
Alan Tio, the CEO of Kosciusko Economic Development Corp., credited Medtronic for its role in finding an entity that has growth plans.
Tio said he can’t recall anything like the transition that’s coming together.
The local specialized workforce, supply chain and innovations, he said, “make us a very attractive area for companies.”
Tio rattled off a list of nearly half a dozen medical device companies that have either moved to or have expanded significantly in Warsaw in the past year.
“It shows the future of the orthopedic industry will continue to run through the Warsaw area,” he said.
Autocam Medical produces precision-machined surgical drill bits, drivers, screws, plates, cutting tools and other highly engineered surgical implants, instruments, and handpieces, as well as other device components. The company has headquarters in Kentwood, Mich., and a presence in Tennessee, Massachusetts, Brazil and China.
Autocam Medical did not immediately return a message for comment. Medtronic also did not immediately respond to an inquiry.