Workforce development + market access = economic growth

Gerresheimer Medical Systems has invested approximately $18 million in its Peachtree City facilities in the past five years, citing a need to be closer to its North American customers while expanding its design innovation and plastics manufacturing capabilities. While it is just one part of the 40-location, 10,000-employee, $1.4 billion company’s worldwide footprint, the investments in infrastructure, technology, equipment and facilities including raw square footage have yielded substantial workforce and production growth.

Gerresheimer is one of five winners of a 2020 Georgia Bio Golden Helix Community Award. These awards are presented to a small number of individuals, institutions or companies whose contributions to Georgia’s life sciences community deserve special recognition.

“There is a significant amount of medtech innovation blossoming from Georgia-based companies,” Gerresheimer’s Aaron Mestman said. “Because deal cycles can take years to realize, a strong Georgia presence with close proximity to Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport gives us a significant advantage locally and nationally over our competitors.”

Aaron Mestman

But it’s not just the innovation ecosystem and airport that have been the core contributors to Gerresheimer’s growth in Georgia. Investments in design and manufacturing tools, as well as workforce development initiatives, are leading contributors.

“Our collaboration with Georgia’s technical colleges and legislature have translated directly into a deeper, more skilled workforce pool without which our growth in Georgia would not be possible,” Mestman said. “Skills develop more quickly and with more proficiency when fixing a machine on the factory floor versus traditional classroom learning.”

With support from Georgia QuickStart, in 2017 Gerresheimer initiated the implementation of its apprenticeship program originating from its German headquarters in Dusseldorf.

Earlier exposure to, and training for, careers in the life sciences means more high paying careers for young Georgians and a robust economy. In 2019, Georgia Bio reported that the life sciences industry grew by more than double the national average, 14.9%, contributing $21.8 billion to the state’s GDP including multiplier effects.

The workforce at Gerresheimer’s Peachtree City facility, including its Technical Competence Center, has doubled in the past six years to approximately 300 employees. They design, manufacture and ship hundreds of millions of medical products annually from raw materials to finished, palletized products that enter directly into the global supply chain. The plant runs in two shifts, 24/7, 363 days every year. 

Mestman says the Technical Competence Center marries design and manufacturing staff and capabilities for smoother transition, tighter tolerances, fewer mistakes and fewer development process hurdles.

Gerresheimer manufactures a significant percentage of respiratory inhalers on the market worldwide. They also design and manufacture “Accu-chek,” for Roche Diabetes Care who, Mestman says, “has come back to us at regular intervals to incorporate new design ideas into the product and help them maintain their position as industry leader in diabetic diagnostics and care.”

One other product that highlights the Gerresheimer Peachtree City facility’s proficiency in medtech design and development is an ultra-thin diagnostic card containing 64 wells with microfluidic channels that enables plasma to interact with assays to diagnose and determine disease progression. The Peachtree City factory produces high double digit millions of these every year.

“Quality and tooling must be perfect in order to deliver this volume to market with better quality and a lower price than, say, another manufacturer making 20 million, which, although a significant number, is only a fraction of what we produce,” Mestman said. “Our efficiency in tooling yields gains in production quality and internal tolerances that let us know the product is perfect the moment it comes out of the manufacturing process.”

Mestman said Gerresheimer anticipates investing another several million in the next two years as they further increase their capabilities and extend their small batch production, but expresses even greater enthusiasm for Gerresheimer’s ongoing body of work as a whole:

Image courtesy: Gerresheimer

“We are currently working on projects and technologies that will change the world through the role they play in ensuring life saving/changing treatments are more effective, affordable, and accessible to the world as a whole.  We really are changing the world for the better!”

About Gerresheimer’s Peachtree City Location