By JEN CARDINES
Last Wednesday, Smiths Medical hosted U.S. Rep. John B. Larson (D-Conn.) at their Southington plant to demonstrate the cutting edge medical devices that they manufacture. Smiths is a premiere company in the state of Connecticut and is known globally.
Their product line serves many clinicians and physicians to give patients the best treatment they can offer.
“Clinicians are very passionate about not inflicting pain on people, especially on children,” said Jeff Bowen, Director of Operations at Smiths.
Smiths’ most common production line is peripheral intravenous catheters, small tubular devices that help give the patient medication, fluid, or blood products. They are designed with more comfort in mind, and safety features for better needle control.
About 100 million catheters are manufactured every year, components coming from local businesses. Bowen said that the metal eyelets come from Braxton Industries in Waterbury and some of the shipping products are bought locally, too.
“It’s a great little plant to really support the community,” said Bowen. “Almost everything we do is local, to a little bit of domestic, and a very small amount of international suppliers.”
There are three Connecticut sites that Smiths maintains. The main campus on West Queen Street is the site for most of the company’s manufacturing. A warehouse in Bristol is leased for storage, and a lab is maintained for making custom, hand-made, tracheostomy tubes.
The tubes are made to a custom print with same day delivery, to serve patients with disabilities, or those that have suffered an accident. The main feature with the tubes is the comfort they provide, allowing the patient to have more neck mobility.
Congressman Larson told Smiths that he spent the summer going around to many manufacturers in the state, primarily in aerospace business. He spoke with Smiths officials about the obstacles of running a business in the state, and in manufacturing.
Bowen told Larson that he wonders if the high cost of living would prohibit people from coming to work in CT. “The cost of business, the cost of living, and the desire to manufacture here needs to be made easier to companies,” said Bowen.
Larson agreed. “No one in the middle class has gotten any relief. They’ve seen no visible increase long term over their lot in life. Wall Street is doing spectacularly well and has long since recovered and blown by everybody since 2008, but what about the manufacturers?” said the congressman. “What about the guys that really make it so that all of us can thrive?”
Larson received a tour of the facility following the discussion.