After 25 years of rolling out other company’s medical devices, St. Paul-based contract-manufacturer Minnetronix Medical has begun designing some of its own.
The MindsEye Port — a small but expandable insert used in deep-brain surgery — received clearance from the federal Food and Drug Administration last year for the treatment of stroke, cancer and other conditions. MindsEye is a few months away from hitting the market, and if regulatory reviews are favorable, could be followed next year by a spinal catheter that removes blood from cerebral spinal fluid after an aneurysm.
Those aren’t the only innovations that have chief executive officer Jeremy Maniak feeling bullish about company growth. Over the past year, Minnetronix has brought on 75 new workers — roughly half of them engineers — to its headquarters at 1635 Energy Park Drive, just off Snelling Avenue, bringing the total workforce there to more than 400 employees. Maniak, who joined Minnetronix in 2010, was named the company’s chief executive officer in early 2020, weeks before the pandemic officially hit Minnesota.
$6 MILLION EXPANSION
A year-long, $6 million physical expansion has remodeled the three-building campus, growing its footprint from 120,000 to 160,000 square feet, thanks in part to $1 million in grants and loans from the state Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED).
“We are 100 percent in St. Paul,” said Maniak, in a recent interview. “Obviously, we have a global supply chain. We reach all over the world for parts, but all the high-end testing and assembly happens right here in St. Paul. (We’re) designing, developing and manufacturing a hundred different medical devices on any given day.”
Maniak said the company’s customer base has doubled in five years, and there are 85 contract projects in the pipeline.
It’s the kind of growth that has caught the attention of city and state leaders eager to boost the city’s business profile in the areas of technology and innovation.
Minnetronix is privately backed by Altaris Capital Partners, a New York-based investment firm focused exclusively on the healthcare industry. Altaris, which had held minority ownership in the company since 2016, became the majority owner in February.
On Monday, St. Paul Mayor Carter and DEED Commissioner Steve Grove are scheduled to tour the expanded facility with Maniak and celebrate a ribbon-cutting for the renovated campus. The mayor plans to declare Monday “Minnetronix Day” in St. Paul.
Part factory, part research facility and part corporate headquarters, the Minnetronix campus is made up of some two dozen labs, a traditional factory floor, “clean rooms” for sterile manufacturing and corporate offices. From there, devices are shipped to medical clients around the world, from start-ups to global companies, including Plymouth, Minn.-based Smiths Medical and Boston-based ActivSurgical.
“There’s not many companies in the state that touch this many medical technologies,” Maniak said. “We’ve seen really strong investment in healthcare and in medical technology. When people finance new innovations and therapies, and better, faster, cheaper delivery of healthcare, that helps drive growth, and we’re positioned well to take advantage of that. We really brought on a lot of folks, from engineers to assemblers to key leadership positions across the whole company.”
Over the years, Minnetronix has concentrated its focus on four core segments of the med-tech industry: fluid and gas management, optical systems, RF/EM energy equipment and the stimulation and critical active wearables markets, such as glucose-monitoring machines.
While demand for non-essential medical services all but dried up during the early days of the pandemic last year as hospitals deferred non-critical care, other clients relied on the company’s manufacturing and supply chain expertise as much as ever.
“All of those customers needed our help, they just needed our help in different ways,” Maniak said. “(We were) helping our customers slow down and pause if they were non-essential, and then in many cases accelerate delivery and accelerate supply chains. The two ends of the spectrum. We saw the extremes of both. … At first it was ‘survive,’ and then we moved to ‘thrive.’ We were able to get into ‘thrive’ mode pretty quickly.”
He added that “one of the staples of our workplace culture is ‘What can you do to help?’ and ‘What can you control?,’ rather than getting lost in what’s happening to you. The world is very volatile. We can’t control that. But we can control how we react and how we show up in that environment.”
For the campus expansion, Gardner Builders of Minneapolis worked with Pope Architects of St. Paul. Intereum of Plymouth. designed the interior spaces.