Two years after its formation, M-PACT, the Eudora-based manufacturer of orthopedic casting equipment, is preparing to capitalize on its new position in a growing industry.
In that vein, the company, which was created by the merger of Orthopedic Casting Laboraties and Martin Medical of DeSoto, is looking for several major developments in 1992, says Jim Martin, its president.
First, the company, which specializes in plaster casting systems and other orthopedic devices and supplies, plans to begin test marketing a new casting system this quarter.
Martin is stingy with details, which he says is consistent with the new product's innovativeness and potential.
"It is a non-traditional system," he said. "Everything you see around here, a lot of the same thought process went into the design. Functionally, it's the same. We just accomplished it in a different way."
M-PACT IS developing the new casting system with a $93,500 grant from the Kansas Technology Enterprise Corp. M-PACT was required to match the award with $151,450 of its own funds.
In announcing the grant this fall, KTEC said the project being funded sought to develop a non-water activated splinting and casting material for stabilizing broken bones.
Martin also declines to quanitify the new product's revenue potential for the privately held company, which does not disclose annual sales figures.
However, a receptive market for the new product could generate growth in sales as well as an increase in the size of M-PACT's administrative and production facilities in Eudora's Intech Business Park, Martin said.
"I can go so far as to say we couldn't begin to manufacture the new product in our existing space," he said.
THE COMPANY already has two buildings in Intech Business Park the 24,000-square-foot administrative building, which was built as OCL's headquarters in 1987, and a new 40,000-square-foot manufacturing building, which was constructed in 1990.
But expansion of its more traditional product lines isn't the only objective that M-PACT is pursuing. For the past year, the company has been manufacturing its own plaster of Paris, making it one of only three such producers in the United States.
The immediate benefit of producing plaster of Paris, which the company uses in manufacturing bandage and casting products, is "overhead absorption," Martin said. He explained the company previously purchased plaster of Paris from another manufacturer.
"Because we now have the capacity to manufacture plaster of Paris, we're aggressively marketing our plaster of Paris bandage," he said.
In the 12 months after the company began making plaster of Paris in September of 1990, its plaster bandage sales quadrupled, he said.
But making plaster of Paris in house also opens up other possibilities, said Nancy Crisp, M-PACT's corporate communications coordinator.
In addition to its uses in orthopedic casting products, plaster of Paris has a variety of other uses ranging from covering asbestos-wrapped pipes to art projects.
"We're still in the process of building our business but we hope to capture that market with our expanded capabilities," Crisp said.
The production capacity at M-PACT, which employs about 140 people, also increased in November when the company initiated a second shift for its conversion department. Workers on that shift operate slitting equipment, which cuts plaster bandages, and also produce the OCL custom splinting system.
DURING 1992 the company also intends to keep tapping reliable markets for orthopedic supplies. One of them, the military, is a good M-PACT customer and, cuts in defense spending notwithstanding, Martin said he expects to continue selling his products to the armed forces.
"We think we are literally within a few days of an announcement of a contract we'd really like to have," Martin said, but declined to be more specific.
"The military's a big user of our casting products and we have a history of being a good vendor to the Defense Department," he said.