“A BUILDING SHOULD APPEAR TO GROW EASILY FROM ITS SITE AND BE SHAPED TO HARMONIZE WITH ITS SURROUNDINGS IF NATURE MANIFEST THERE.”
—Frank Lloyd Wright, American architect
Were those who designed the new Monaghan Medical Corporation building on Industrial Avenue inspired by Wright? Or perhaps they knew something about the ancient Chinese tradition of feng shui.
The new Monaghan Medical campus is located off Route 3 west of Plattsburgh in an industrial park with neighbors like Norsk Titanium. Everything about this innovative new facility is in harmony with its surroundings and points to good karma. As you follow the curved road in the Town of Plattsburgh, with an old-growth forest on the right and meadows on the left, the new building appears. Trudell Medical (its London, Ontario-based parent company) under the leadership of GeorgeT. Baran, Executive Chair and Gerald Slemko, Chief Executive Officer made a substantial investment to build the 65,000 square foot facility. The building is set diagonally on a 35-acre lot that has ample room to accommodate present day needs as well as any expansions in the future.
Monaghan Medical Corporation is a global leader in the development and manufacture of aerosol drug delivery services and respiratory management products used to help their customers literally breathe easier.
The company had successfully manufactured in Plattsburgh in a leased facility on Latour Avenue since 1981, but more space was needed. Now, with the newly completed facility, which is more than twice the size of the former plant, Monaghan has improved the layout of its production lines, increased efficiency and output, and is meeting an extended product demand. More jobs have been created, bringing the work force in Plattsburgh to 85.
The new temperature-controlled facility is surrounded by glass to welcome the natural light and provide stress-reducing views of the Adirondacks. Production associates have their own locker room and employees have access to a cafeteria throughout the work day.
Construction During a Pandemic
Groundbreaking for the new Monaghan building was held in August of 2019 but seven month later the world changed. How did a construction project of this magnitude make it through the pandemic I asked?
“In the beginning, we worked with our corporate group and they hired a Project Manager,” explained Tim Howley, manufacturing Manager during construction. “Corporate spared no expense, and things were going well until a few months into the project. Suddenly, in March 2020, COVID closed the U.S.-Canadian border and our Project Manager could no longer travel to Plattsburgh.”
Howley and the local leadership team, Gary Ziemer, Kathie Cameron, Cari Reil, Brian Gordon, and Jonathan Side, suddenly found themselves thrust into an unexpected on-site project management role. An additional challenge for them was maintaining the manufacture of critical medical devices at the Latour Avenue plant. “We only stopped production for a week,” said Howley, with understandable pride. Amazing! And to its further credit, during that hectic time, Monaghan Medical was presented with the Zenith Award, an American Association for Respiratory Care (AARC) trade award, for the sixth year in a row. “It was a real honor to win it again,” said Howley. “It is based on the products themselves and our service to respiratory therapists and their clients nationwide.”
Once the impact of the pandemic was fully understood the Monaghan project was shifted to local contractor, LuckBuilders. Protocols were put in place to stay within Center for Disease Control COVID guidelines and construction continued but serious constraints soon emerged. The price of lumber and other construction materials — when they were even available — beganto affect the budget and timeline. Another challenge was the availability of sub-contractors.
As a medical device manufacturer that meant regulatory compliance requirements had to be maintained to meet the standards of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) before operations at the new location could begin. According to Howley, the complications delayed qualification for a certificate of Occupancy and the move from Latour Avenue by approximately three months.
The New Director of Operations
Howley, who called the construction of the new facility “the highlight of his career,” retired from Monaghan in February after 40 years. His successor, Andrew Sepcie, arrived in December 2020 and immediately began working closely with Howley to ease the transition. Sepcie, who hails from the suburbs of Philadelphia, brought extensive manufacturing and regulatory experience, most notably from his years in medical device manufacturing at Johnson & Johnson.
Reached at his new office, Sepcie was confident about his plans at Monaghan. “Before I came here, I worked with the manufacture of highly regulated Class 1, 2 and 3 medical devices for 35 years. When I came for the interview, I saw at once that this facility was designed with future growth in mind. We plan to continue to manufacture our current product portfolio and introduce new products, while embracing an innovation mindset to satisfy our customer needs. There is room enough in our current facility but the acreage provides for expansion.”
“Andy has inherited a great team,” Howley said. “They know Monaghan’s mission and how to keep focused on producing quality products and continue to have fun while accomplishing their goals.”
Moving into the Future
Monaghan Medical supports local businesses as well as important organizations like the United Way, JCEO, CVPH Foundation, North Country Chamber of Commerce, YMCA, and Chazy Music Theatre. Its commitment to the community will continue to be a priority through its Community Action Team (CAT).
As a global leader with a worldwide customer base, Monaghan provides excellent employment opportunities and puts Plattsburgh on the world manufacturing stage. In addition, as the demand for more innovative respiratory medical devices increases, the company is poised to meet it from its transformational and inspirational headquarters in Plattsburgh, New York.
Monaghan Medical Corporation
153 Industrial Boulevard West
Plattsburgh, NY 12901