Brady Hatcher and partners three years ago started Switchback Medical, which designs and manufactures medical devices, at a facility in Maple Grove.
Growth has been rapid. Now with 80 employees, Switchback is spending $11 million to acquire and update a 120,000-square-foot building in Brooklyn Park as its new headquarters. Switchback will start moving employees into the building next month.
“Things have just gone crazy,” Hatcher said. “I was sitting in this building three years ago by myself.”
In recent years, Brooklyn Park has been a magnet for companies like Switchback.
“Brooklyn Park has a lot of medical manufacturers,” said Daniela Lorenz, Brooklyn Park’s business development coordinator. She said that the city’s “medical corridor” is centered around Hwy. 610 and W. Broadway Avenue.
A few years ago Japan-based Olympus built its $37 million Surgical Innovation Center in Brooklyn Park, a big investment in the city. Then-Gov. Mark Dayton was on hand for the grand opening when the 180,000-square-foot facility opened in 2015.
Olympus, which had previously been in Maple Grove, was also weighing locations in the Boston, Memphis and Cleveland metro areas when it decided to stay in the Twin Cities.
Switchback Medical’s expansion is being driven by its brisk business growth. The company caters to small but solid medical device companies and doctors who are patenting and inventing devices, he said.
“The big guys don’t want these projects,” said Hatcher.
One such client is St. Louis Park-based NeoChord, which is developing a device for repairing the heart’s mitral valve. Switchback makes catheters for NeoChord.
“Being able to team up with their engineers in their facility really helped accelerate our iteration cycle and our ability to test the new prototypes very quickly,” said David Chung, NeoChord’s CEO. “We would not be where we are today had it not been for this partnership.”
Another manufacturer, Cretex Cos. of Elk River, is also moving some medical operations to Brooklyn Park. Two of the six companies in the Cretex Medical division, JunoPacific and Meier, will move into a 245,000-square-foot building being built by Minneapolis-based developer United Properties.
The new facility will be almost entirely dedicated to medical device and component manufacturing. JunoPacific provides medical device molding, design and assembly. Meier makes precision metal stampings and subassemblies for the medical devices. Both companies have been based in Anoka.
When Cretex announced its plans in March it said that the building would “position the company for accelerated growth in the medical device contract manufacturing market.” Cretex will take full control of the building, which it will own, in February. There will ultimately be about 400 employees in the building.
Switchback Medical got some state and city help for its project. The city’s Brooklyn Park Development Corp. provided a $300,000 revolving loan. Switchback also secured $575,000 from two state funds with a commitment to add 92 jobs over the next three years. Hatcher said that the demand is there to meet that target.
Lorenz noted that other medical manufacturers in the city include Cirtec Medical and Biomerics. Cirtec is based in Brooklyn Park; Biomerics is based in Salt Lake City with locations across the U.S.
Medtronic also has operations in Brooklyn Park. Its facility there is the headquarters for its cardiac surgery business and has approximately 300 employees.
Switchback bought its Brooklyn Park building from commercial contractor Egan Co. It had been Egan’s headquarters. Switchback and two related companies will initially be using 65,000 square feet of the building and leasing the rest of the space.
Hatcher and partners have launched several startup companies. The Maple Grove facility will be retained for starting another medical component and device business.