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World Forum ‘Excursion Day’ Includes a Lehigh Valley Tour

By LVEDC Staff on June 17, 2014

B. Braun Tour - FDI (1)
Don Cunningham, LVEDC president and CEO, is shown making comments to 2014 World Forum delegates June 16th during a tour of the B Braun manufacturing facility in Hanover Township, Lehigh County.

Don Cunningham, LVEDC president and CEO, is shown making comments to 2014 World Forum delegates June 16th during a tour of the B Braun manufacturing facility in Hanover Township, Lehigh County.

The Lehigh Valley Economic Development Corporation was honored to play host to nearly two dozen foreign direct investment professionals who took the 60-mile trek north from Philadelphia to tour three Lehigh Valley sites during the first day of the prestigious 2014 World Forum for Foreign Direct Investment.

The Lehigh Valley was one of three locales to be granted tours as the World Forum came to America for the first time.

“It was just a great opportunity to showcase the reasons why companies throughout the world have decided to come to the Lehigh Valley,” said Don Cunningham, president and CEO of LVEDC. “And we did that by simply having some of those companies explain why they are in the Lehigh Valley. Honestly, I can’t think of a better way to promote the region to decision-makers.”

Officials at the three sites gave the “Excursion Day” participants a day to remember.

The first stop, Martin Guitar, hit all the right notes. Then a presentation hosted by City Center Investment Corporation really connected from downtown. The final stop of day: Global life sciences leader B Braun Medical in Hanover Township, Lehigh County.

To understand B Braun is to understand success. Make that 175 years of success – a staggering number when you consider the consistency of excellence the company has achieved, done with an unwavering commitment to excellence and efficiency emblematic of the German work ethic and the company’s headquarters in Melsungen, Germany.

During a 30-minute presentation to the foreign direct investment professionals, Bruce Heugel, the company’s senior vice president and CFO, said the medical device manufacturer operates under a fairly simple premise.

“We haven’t been afraid to share our expertise,” he said. “We are not afraid to share our knowledge.”

That knowledge was born of the company’s ability to constantly reinvent itself, or as Heugel explained to World Forum delegates, the continued innovation of their products, the efficiency of which they do it, and their sustainability of doing it time and again.

The privately-held company operates in 61 nations, according to Heugel, with corporate United States headquarters in Bethlehem and two primary manufacturing sites, one in Hanover Township, Lehigh County, the other in Irvine, California.

“About 80 percent of our products are made in the U.S. for the U.S,” he noted.

Rex Boland, vice president and general manager at the Hanover Township facility, explained some the unique aspects of the company’s manufacturing acumen.

“We make all kinds of things here, from soup-to-nuts,” he said. “…I’ve been in 45 plants during my career and this is the most complex plant I’ve ever seen from the supply chain scenario.”

That complexity creates products that wind up in 90 percent of the hospitals throughout the country, Heugel noted. Last year the company topped $7 billion in sales.

The company, a leader in infusion therapy and pain management, develops and makes infusion therapy and pain management products. Part of the reason why the company’s products have been so in demand is the basic reason their products improve patient care, according to Heugel and Boland. In addition, their products are also more efficient to administer for doctors, nurses and health care professionals.

And lest you think the “one-size fits all” approach works when it comes to the medical device market, well, think again.

“The U.S. market is not like other markets, and the market for medical devices is different globally, and that’s also true for medical practices, doctors and education,” Heugel said.

Part of the reason the company has stayed at the top is because the Lehigh Valley location has a plethora of highly skilled labor for the company to choose from. Thanks to trade schools, technical schools, colleges and universities, B Braun has been able to attract new, quality employees.

“We have 1,200 employees at our Lehigh Valley facility,” Boland said.

In addition to a keen workforce, the region provides B Braun with partners in a burgeoning life sciences sector and a sterling location where the company has access to 60 percent of the United States market within a 24-hour trip. All of that adds up to strong revenue.

Those prodigious sales have put a premium on space and the company recently acquired property at Lehigh Valley International Airport, “increasing the company’s footprint” at their current building, according to Heugel.

Heugel also said the company will open its new headquarters on property they purchased last year in Upper Saucon Township. That vision is still up to five years away from becoming a reality, he said, but it plainly indicates the company is always forward-thinking and confident that demand for their products will continue.

And no doubt those in attendance Monday from the 2014 World Forum would concur.

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