Biocoat, a Horsham firm that makes slippery (hydrophilic) coatings for medical tools and devices, has hired 10 machine operators and support workers to apply its Hydak-brand coatings right in its factory, instead of having to use third-party manufacturers or do the work at clients’ facilities.
Thomas Brugnoli, a manufacturing executive previously at Bristol-Myers Squibb and ConvaTec, was hired by Biocoat in January as senior director of operations to help design and run the unit so it meets federal FDA manufacturing standards.
Brugnoli’s hiring and the plan to take the work in-house were among the first steps taken by Biocoat since 1315 Capital, the Philadelphia investment firm, headed by Adele C. Oliva and Michael Koby, bought a controlling interest in 28-year-old Biocoat last winter.
No price for the deal was announced, but documents from outside sources show the investment valued the firm at more than $50 million.
Biocoat now employs 70, up from 58 at the time of the acquisition. “As our customers become more familiar with our services, the company will expand” further, said chief executive Jim Moran, adding that his firm plans to offer “a Nordstrom-like customer service model," close to the customer. He said the service should prove specially attractive to start-up companies making samples and initial batches of products.
He wouldn’t identify customers but noted that Horsham is convenient to major U.S. medical-device makers in New Jersey and suburban Philadelphia, and to a skilled workforce, including recent graduates of life-sciences programs at Drexel, Temple, Saint Joseph’s, Rutgers, and Arcadia Universities. The company also ships worldwide.
Biocoat products are used in brain, heart, artery, and eye treatments, including cataract treatments, retrieval devices, and catheters, among other products.
The coating facility helps make Biocoat “a complete, turnkey coating service solution,” said Moran. The new unit occupies 10,000 square feet in the newest of Biocoat’s three Horsham buildings, on Rock Road. Workers dip devices in an initial coating, then heat it in an oven, applying a final coat that holds a large volume of water, making the device highly slippery. “The top coat is 99 percent water" and that "reduces friction by 95 percent,” Moran said.
The company can now handle “commercial production volumes” for new products, while supplementing production for companies that have gotten used to doing their own coating, added Brugnoli.
Four years before last winter’s sale of the company — and days before the death at age 98 of Biocoat’s founder, chemist Ellington Beavers — he donated 16 percent of the company to Arcadia University, whose labs he used to develop Biocoat.