Location is key when it comes to setting up a new business and while Limerick city would seem to be the obvious choice for companies looking to establish a footing in the region, one American firm decided to think outside the box – and outside the city centre – when it chose Newcastle West as its Irish base.
Ortec is a life sciences company headquartered in the US and specialising in materials research and manufacturing.
Founded in 1980 by Larry Brotherton and headquartered in South Carolina, Ortec is still owned and run by the Brotherton family, with Larry as its chief executive.
The company currently has three facilities in South Carolina, providing contract formulation and manufacturing services to clients in the pharmaceutical, biopharmaceutical and medical device sectors.
Ortec’s new Irish base in Newcastle West will be its first outside of the US, housing the company’s European headquarters, manufacturing and operations centre.
According to John Geraghty, business development manager at Ortec’s new Limerick operation, the company’s decision to invest in Ireland was customer-driven.
“The need for locally-manufactured product has always been a high priority for our customers, although the pandemic has pushed customers to take a more proactive view and move more quickly to secure the supply chain of their critical raw materials,” Geraghty said.
“Ireland has a high concentration of life science companies with manufacturing facilities, some of which we support from South Carolina.
“However, the decision to invest in Newcastle West was more personal to the Brotherton family. Hailing from rural roots, they wanted to continue that tradition and build the facility away from the traditional investment centres close to the large cities.”
The site in Limerick sits on 20-plus acres, giving the company ample room for future expansion.
Total investment in the site is expected to be in the region of €25 million over the next few years, and Ortec hopes to employ up to 130 people in Newcastle West once all phases of this planned investment are complete.
The first phase of construction began earlier this year and is due for completion in March 2022. The site will be ISO 13485 certified and will operate under FDA and EMA guidelines for the production of pharmaceutical, combination and medical device materials.
“As business development manager, it will be my role to bring new projects to this facility in addition to managing the baseload business we will transfer in from South Carolina,” Geraghty said.
“These products will be contract-manufactured materials for medical device and pharmaceutical applications.
“In addition, we are looking at life science customers who may have a need to outsource some or all of a chemical process where quality and consistency are key.”
With many US-owned companies in Ireland relying on long supply chains for raw materials sourced from the States, Ortec would be on hand to give them a “high quality, cost-effective and local alternative”, Geraghty said, reducing the risks associated with complicated supply chains.
He put Ortec’s success in the US to date down to its “ethos, work ethic and vision”. “In general, companies don’t survive for as long as Ortec without being successful – and in our case, this success has come from all the people within the organisation,” Geraghty said.
“The core belief of the company is integrity at every step and, to adhere to this belief, it has developed six unwavering principles: optimism, honesty, diligence, stewardship, humility, and shared outcomes.
“When I joined Ortec almost four years ago, I immediately understood that these were not just hollow guides and felt the enthusiasm from all of the people I met at that time.
“As we progress with our hiring in Newcastle West, I feel that the people who join our organisation will feel the same. These individuals will have the opportunity to help shape the future of our company.”