A family-owned German company called Raumedic has opened a $27 million development and production facility in western North Carolina to make medical and pharmaceutical plastic and rubber components.

The first employees, including a sales team formerly based in Leesburg, Va., have begun working at the 60,000-square-foot plant in the Henderson County town of Mills River.

The company plans to have as many as 172 employees working at this U.S. headquarters site within the next several years at an average annual wage of $55,000, according to the Henderson County Partnership for Economic Development, which helped recruit the plant in 2015. That pay would be substantially more than the county’s average annual wage of $34,256 and would represent an annual payroll of more than $9 million.

“North Carolina’s bio pharma industry continues to grow, and this announcement by Raumedic is proof of that,” said Gov. Pat McCrory. “The decision to locate this U.S. headquarters here speaks volumes about everything North Carolina has to offer to growing companies, both domestic and international.”

The facility, located on a 10-acre site in the Broadpointe Industrial Park, south of the Asheville Regional Airport, is the first U.S. production facility for Raumedic.

“We really fell in love with the area, and were convinced that the community partners that we met could deliver on our schedule for new construction and operation,” Raumedic CEO Martin Bayer said when the company chose the North Carolina site. “For us, Henderson County provides an experienced and skilled workforce and the ideal business environment for our investment.”

Raumedic, headquartered in Helmbrechts, Germany, has about 580 employees. It is part of the Rehau Group, a family-owned company that also makes plastics for the automotive, construction and other industries, employing more than 18,000 people at 170 locations worldwide.

The North Carolina facility will use extrusion, liquid-injection molding and assembly processes to make medical-grade components, including tubing and parts for pumps used in nutrition and pain management; and tubing, filters and drip chambers used in eye surgeries.

“Over the past year, a great deal of excavation, building, bolting and installation work has been done,” Raumedic says on its website. “The technical installations were completed in December (2015), first injection molding machines were connected to the grid, one after the other, to be followed now by extrusion lines to produce medical-grade tubing and layflat film. Qualification processes are currently being performed for the machines and preparations are currently underway for certification in accordance with ISO 13485.”

ISO 13485 is an International Organization for Standardization standard, published in 2003, that represents the requirements for a comprehensive quality management system for the design and manufacture of medical devices.

(C) N.C. Biotechnology Center