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July 8, 2024

Millstone Medical invests $5M in new Bloomfield testing facility, amid supply chain-tightening trend

Brian Ambrose | Hartford Business Journal Karl Neuberger, CEO of Millstone Medical Outsourcing, in the laboratory of Millstone Medical Testing’s new facility in Bloomfield.
Brian Ambrose | Hartford Business Journal Paul Lavoie, the state’s chief manufacturing officer, shares a laugh with Paul Robertson, deputy commissioner of the state Department of Economic and Community Development, and Karl Neuberger, CEO of Millstone Medical Outsourcing.
Click below for more information about Millstone Medical Outsourcing.
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Karl Neuberger, CEO of Millstone Medical Outsourcing, says his business philosophy is to focus on the variables he can control — customer service, shortening lead times and offering competitive pricing.

Recently, the Fall River, Massachusetts-based company made the strategic decision to relocate its medical equipment testing facility from Willington, Conn., to a space that is four times larger in Bloomfield.

Increasing its capacity to meet growing demand is the latest example of Millstone seeking to control its own destiny.

“We’re focused on what we can control,” Neuberger said in an exclusive interview with the Hartford Business Journal. “And if we get that right, things genuinely work out well.”

Millstone Medical Outsourcing, which provides medical device packaging, logistics and testing to the healthcare industry, in June opened a new 25,000-square-foot testing facility at 35 Griffin Road South, in Bloomfield.

Not only can the new facility process more samples, and with a quicker turnaround, it’s an easy 15-minute drive from Bradley International Airport — a key factor in selecting the location, Neuberger said.

Also, it’s near the Interstate 91 corridor, which has a larger employee base than Willington, a small town tucked along Interstate 84, about 25 miles east of Hartford.

Millstone Medical Outsourcing invested $5 million to add a state-of-the-art laboratory to the building, which previously housed optical fiber manufacturer Pioneer Optics.

Growing market

In addition to providing clean room medical equipment packaging and assembly services, the company offers sophisticated testing for medical device manufacturers and healthcare systems across the nation, including in Connecticut.

The company established its testing division in December 2022, when it acquired Connecticut-based Ethide Laboratories and MycoScience. Millstone’s Willington facility is the former home of MycoScience.

Medical device testing is a growing business. It’s required to meet regulatory requirements for bringing new products to market and maintaining compliance throughout the product life cycle.

The medical device testing services market was valued at $8.95 billion in 2023, and is projected to grow at a 9.44% compound annual growth rate from 2024 to 2030, according to Grand View Research.

Driving that growth is the “complexity in product design, intensifying competition, increasing number of small-sized medical device manufacturers, and strict approval norms” by regulatory bodies globally, Grand View Research said.

All of Millstone’s employees in Willington accepted relocation offers to Bloomfield, though a handful will continue working in the Willington facility, which will remain open at least until the company’s lease expires, Neuberger explained.

Millstone’s testing division, called Millstone Medical Testing, has 21 employees based in Bloomfield and is actively recruiting for four or five more positions.

Brian Ambrose | Hartford Business Journal
A lab worker prepares samples at Millstone Medical Testing’s new 25,000-square-foot facility at 35 Griffin Road South in Bloomfield.

Neuberger said Millstone Testing expects to add three to five new employees per year for the foreseeable future to keep pace with demand.

“The industry itself is growing,” he said. “But we’re also growing outside of just the normal growth because we’re extremely focused on customer service, shortening wait times, and offering very competitive pricing and testing.”

Near-shoring trend

In this economic climate, Paul Lavoie, the state’s chief manufacturing officer, said it’s becoming increasingly important for companies to be located near their customers, which improves lead times.

Lavoie said Millstone’s decision to keep its testing division in Connecticut is another example of a recent phenomenon, in which companies are “shortening their supply chains” to shield themselves from supply chain disruptions.

“Speed is the new king,” Lavoie said. “It used to be that price was the king; right now, it’s speed — how quickly can I get things done? And that’s why we started to see companies getting closer to their customers: so that they can do things quicker and faster.”

Rachel Robinson

The medical device industry suffered supply chain shortages and bottlenecks during the pandemic, said Rachel Robinson, chief operating officer at MassMEDIC, a medical device manufacturer trade organization.

“What the team at Millstone has done is looked around and said, ‘OK, that means there’s an opportunity to innovate, there’s an opportunity to bring things closer to home, there’s an opportunity for new facilities and new capabilities that are going to allow there to never be the shortages in our industry to happen again,’” Robinson said.

Facility tour

During a recent tour of the Bloomfield facility, visitors donned spacesuit-like coats and hair bonnets as a supervisor showcased the laboratory, following a ribbon-cutting ceremony on June 20. The laboratory contains a modular cleanroom, sophisticated heating and cooling equipment, a kitchen for preparing media to culture bacteria and specialized work areas, including cubicles for technicians, which the Willington facility lacked.

In the lab, technicians test samples for contaminants, such as microorganisms. The samples include orthopedic implants for knee or hip replacements, among other medical components that need to be sterile before they’re used on a patient.

Peter Huie

Peter Huie, Millstone’s vice president of supply chain operations, said the company is working with the state community college system to allow students to use their facilities to practice skills they’re learning in the classroom.

Also, the program could create a feeder system to help with recruitment, Huie said.

Millstone is exploring the possibility of applying for tax credits through the Department of Economic and Community Development, he added.

Millstone has about 600 employees across sites in Massachusetts, Connecticut, Rhode Island and Mississippi.

Neuberger declined to discuss the company’s finances, but said Millstone’s revenues have grown every year since it was established 24 years ago.

“I see no reason why that’s going to change,” he said. “We expect to have a nice growth rate every year going forward. And we always have in the past.”

He added: “We add new services when we identify things that we think the market needs, and that our customer base wants. And that has helped us grow.”

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