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LVEDC Business Profile: Small Parts for the Most Demanding Applications

By Colin McEvoy on April 7, 2015

Sussex Wire’s products serve everything from the medical and automotive industries to aerospace and military applications. They are used in such devices as surgical equipment, hypodermic needles, computer circuit boards, battery terminals, vehicle airbags and missile defense electronics.

Their products are also extremely small in scale: some as small as 2 or 3 human hair diameters.

“Some of our items are so small, they look like metallic dust that you can hold in your hand,” said Candace Kelly, Sussex Wire vice president of finance and administrative.

The Palmer Township-based company specializes in the design, manufacturing and distribution of miniature and micro-miniature metal components, which are used in a wide range of products and technologies. Examples of these highly-engineered, specialty metal parts include syringe needle hubs, ligature staples for surgery, valves, buttons and circuit board wire wrappings.

One of a very few companies in the world that can produce such high-precision and geometrically-complex components, Sussex Wire produces between 50 and 70 million pieces per month in their roughly 40,000-square-foot facility, which employs 54 workers and has been located in the Palmer Industrial Park since the late 1980s.

“Ever since moving to the Lehigh Valley, Sussex Wire has enjoyed the benefit of lower costs of manufacturing based on taxation, lease rates, land costs and development costs,” said Timothy Kardish, Sussex Wire president and CEO. “Additionally, the access to educational institutions that have an interest in the student-to-hire ecosystem has been very attractive.”

Sussex Wire serves up to 60 customers globally, and ships as many goods to customers outside of the United States as they do domestically, Kardish said. Sussex Wire owns and operates a wide variety of machines for cold-forming and cold-heading processes to meet specific customer specifications.

Founded in 1973, Sussex Wire was originally located in New Jersey, but moved to the Lehigh Valley due to its superior employee base, access to customers and logistics, lower costs of manufacturing and operation, and the large number of supportive organizations that helps the company grow.

Kelly said one of Sussex Wire’s strongest assets is a skilled employee base, and that the company has invested heavily in seeking sources for skilled employees. To that end, the company has partnered with the Manufacturers Resource Center and the Lehigh Valley Workforce Investment Board, and developed a co-op arrangement with the Career Institute of Technology, through which it mentors individuals interested in entering the manufacturing industry after graduation.

“They’re developing skills within a tool room setting under the supervision of our employees and develop the specific skills they’d need here, with the hopes that when they graduate, they would be interested in joining us full-time,” Kelly said.

Between 35 and 40 percent of its business serves the medical device and health place market, with such products as medical drive wire for endoscopic/orthopedic applications, titanium medical staple for bone surgeries, and custom connectors for implants and interventional devices.

About 25 to 30 percent of Sussex Wire’s business is in sensors, relays and electronics, including battery anode terminals, diode heat sink buttons and fuse components. Its products are also used in automotive applications (complex custom components for vehicle electronics), appliance applications (home appliance, refrigeration and personal computing) and energy applications (micro components for LED, solar, lighting and oil/gas markets).

Sussex Wire has a competitive advantage in its ability to work with a variety of different metals, including exotic metals, nickel alloys, stainless steel, cobalt, and precious metals like gold, silver, platinum, and palladium. Despite shipping up to 1.2 billion parts per year, and company produces less than 3 percent scrap, Kardish said.

Sussex Wire has a rigorous employee health and safety program. In 2014, the company received the status of OSHA Worldwide Safety Standard, which means zero lost-time incidents within a 12 month period per 100 fulltime employees. This year, Sussex Wire partnered with Federated Insurance to become a Pennsylvania-certified state workplace, which helps them ensure they are making continual improvements in safety throughout the plants.

“In that way we’ve been able to respond before we see an accident occur, and that’s something we’ve been very proud of,” Kelly said.

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