When the COVID-19 pandemic caused shortages of medical face masks at Guthrie Cortland Medical Center, Cortland Biomedical in Cortlandville stepped in and provided masks.
Now that restrictions have loosened and cases have plateaued, the business is building to expand its Lime Hollow Road operations after completing its move to its new site and hiring three more employees early this year.
“Certainly from a head count and jobs perspective, we see this growth rate will allow us to employ more people at the New York site,” said Eric Brown, the director of operations at Cortland Biomedical, on Thursday.
The business produces medical textiles components for businesses such as Johnson & Johnson and Boston Scientific, said John Greco, the vice president of sales. This includes components for devices like catheters.
The business has grown in the last few months as it completed its move following a consolidation from a River Street location to its current Lime Hollow Road location in April, Brown said.
Additionally, the business has hired three employees in July, according to a news release. This now brings the total number of employees to approximately 60, Brown said.
The move to the 35,000-squarefoot facility began in 2016 as the business was looking at how to expand, particularly in its woven and knit components sections, he said. It broke ground at the site on Lime Hollow Road in April 2018, which became operational in November of that year.
From November 2018 to April 2021, the company was consolidating with a location on River Street that business and federal sources once employed 45 to 50 people.
While business slowed during the early months of the pandemic due to restrictions on elective surgery, it picked back up in the latter months of 2020, Brown said.
“The challenges were really just how to operate as an essential business,” he said. That required limiting the number of people at the site, screening and taking temperatures.
Bob Haight, president and CEO of the Cortland County Chamber of Commerce, credited the work of the local managers who helped keep the business in Cortland County.
Cortland Biomedical started as a branch of the business Cortland, which manufactures ropes and tethers, Haight said.
Workers from Cortland were able to adapt the materials for medical uses and when Enerpac Tool Group, of which Cortland is a division, wanted a company to produce and specialize in these materials, the local workers helped make the Cortlandville location a reality.
“They could have built in many local places but because that local team pushed hard, they were able to make it happen in Cortland,” he said.
Cortland Biomedical joins other local companies such as Forkey Construction and Fabrication Inc. and Voyant Beauty as businesses that expanded with the help of other local agencies such as the Cortland County Chamber of Commerce and the Cortland County Business Development Corp, Haight said.
“With a couple of phone calls, we can say, ‘There’s a company coming here and we need to talk,’” he said.
While the Cortland area has a number of people with operational management experience, the business does face the challenge of hiring people with textile experience, Brown said. Most of the recruiting for the positions in the knitting and woven components come from people in Southern states, he said, but he hopes that can change in the future.
“We hope to start to see more applications from local colleges,” Brown said.