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Banner Makes Metal Its Mission in Warsaw

The exacting specifications of an orthopedic implant are mind boggling, and that requires the main ingredient—the metal it consists of—to be trustworthy. A company says it has long been providing that high-quality material, but will now do it within a much closer proximity to the “Orthopedic Capital of the World.” Illinois-based Banner Medical already has 35 customers in Warsaw, but aims to grow that number—and its overall business—by building a $6.3 million facility in the orthopedic hotbed.

“There are material suppliers all around Warsaw, but there’s nobody in Warsaw,” says Banner Medical Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer Dan Stoettner. “We’ve outgrown our current facility, and we need to add new equipment and processes. A great majority of our business is done in Warsaw, so when we said ‘Where are we going to locate?,’ there’s no better option than Warsaw with the high density of medical device manufacturers.”

A subsidiary of Banner Service Corporation, Banner Medical “started out small” when it launched in 2008. Stoettner says business grew “much more rapidly than we even hoped,” and it now serves the biggest names in Warsaw, including Zimmer Biomet, DePuy Orthopaedics and Medtronic, as well as many contract manufacturers. Titanium and cobalt chrome, which are used to make implants, and stainless steel—mostly for making surgical instruments—are the company’s areas of expertise.

“When we started the company, no one was really providing that one-stop shop approach for the OEMs and the contract manufacturers,” says Stoettner. “It became very easy for them to do business with us when they could by four, five or 10 different grades [of metal] from one supplier.”

Banner Medical believes the new facility will attract even more business from Warsaw orthopedic companies. The state-of-the-art operation at the Warsaw Technology Park is expected to create up to 76 jobs by 2019. Stoettner says the facility will process 12-foot bars of medical grade raw metal, grinding and polishing it to “very exacting tolerances.”

But he notes the company is more than just a distributor, because it provides a long list of value-added services before metal is shipped out its door, including precision straightening, precision grinding and high-tech testing.

“We’ll be doing non-destructive testing on the material…where we can inspect the micro-structure and chemistry of the material to make sure it all conforms. That’s something a little different we do that most folks don’t do,” says Stoettner. “It ensures that there are no cracks in the material; the worst thing that could possibly happen is for the material to fracture in a surgery.”

Banner Medical believes another key benefit to locating in the orthopedic hub is helping companies shorten their lead times.

“They carry a certain amount of inventory on their floor, because they can’t run out and shut down a surgery or a customer,” says Stoettner. “They’ve been able to reduce their inventories over the years, but they need to go further.”

Banner Medical leaders say they’ll help companies meet their inventory goals by working closely with them and “taking the inventory off their floor and putting it on our floor.”

“We’re literally five minutes across town; they can have that comfort level that they’re not running out of material. They can visit us, take a look at their inventory and know it’s not six hours or half a world away,” says Stoettner. “We want to help them move faster, reduce their inventories and invest more in downstream machining and design.”

The company expects to open the new operation in early 2016; it will also be within close proximity to Ivy Tech Community College’s Warsaw campus, where Banner Medical hopes to develop training programs.

“We’re excited about getting closer to our customers,” says Stoettner. “Once we get into town, we’re very confident we’re going to help meet their needs and be able to grow with them.”

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