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Lisbon wire manufacturer branches out into catheters

March 17, 2010
LISBON—More than 100 years after it began producing custom cables and wires, a Lisbon fixture is branching out into the medical device field.

Last Tuesday, officials at New England Wire Technologies cut the ribbon on its new manufacturing foray, New England Catheter.

"We have seen many changes and challenges over the years and the complexity of our wire and cable products have increased to meet the needs of our customers," said Rick Jesseman.

Founded in Lisbon in 1898, New England Wire employs about 300 people at its Main Street facility. Company President Rich Johns said that while New England Catheter has been a part of the company for a few years, New England Wire decided to make "a serious effort" in this particular field of medical device manufacturing.

The climate for stepping up catheter production comes at a time when people have shorter hospital stays and medical procedures are "minimally invasive," he said.

"Many of our customers are either in the innovation stages or have full production," he said.

New England Wire and now New England Catheter, he said, have "unique capabilities and high flexibility" to work with companies and have a swift turnaround on their orders.

Jesseman said the company works "closely with our customers to help them through their product design, prototype development and manufacturing of their final components."

In its long history of producing custom cables and wires, New England Wire Technologies has changed and adapted with the times and last week, marked a new step into medical device manufacturing.

With the cut of a green ribbon, New England Catheter was officially opened, getting down to the business of producing reinforced medical tubing products for less invasive surgical equipment.

About 35 state and local dignitaries, including Grafton County Commissioners Michael Cryans and Ray Burton, were on hand for the celebration.

In launching the expanded New England Catheter, Jesseman said about 13,000 square feet were reclaimed in the company's original building.

Between the 9,200 hours put in by local contractors and another 2,600 hours by employees, "our investment to date is about $850,000," he said.

New England Wire, which, like other companies in the past few years, had layoffs last year. Johns said seven people were recalled to work at New England Catheter; in all, he added, and 15 people total are at work there.

Mark Scarano, executive director of the Grafton County Economic Development Council, said this kind of announcement is hopeful, given the challenging economic times of the past two years.

"This is a big confidence boost for us and for Grafton County," he said. "It shows that even in the worst recession since the Great Depression, American companies can still compete with overseas competition and develop new markets that hires American workers."

Johns said, "manufacturing is alive and well in the U.S.," and that his company will continue its success because of its unique niche.

"Speed and customization," he said, adding that business "has risen dramatically since November."

Littleton Chmber
Varney Smith
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