Spotlight on the Microcatheter Components
by, Bob Schaumann
Hard to believe that Microsoft was once a company of two people – Bill Gates and Paul Allen. We all know THAT success story. Yet, perhaps we will have a similar success story that – over the next several years – will occur here in the southwest corner of the Monadnock region, specifically, in Jaffrey.
Located on Fitzgerald Drive, Microcatheter Components was formed about a year ago when Diane Fukuda and her sister, Karen Wirein, decided to fulfill a life-long dream and start their own company. “We wanted to start a business together and have talked about it for years but couldn’t decide what we wanted to do,” said Diane, who is CEO of the fledgling company. “We wanted to be in manufacturing because it is generative and we wanted to build something sustainable in the community. It was in October of 2014 that we decided to move forward. We were both ready for our own reasons. We had to decide to either scale down or retire, or to build something for the future. We wanted something for our community of Jaffrey, our employees, our customers, and all of our stakeholders. It required that we make a conscious decision to serve life and not serve fear of failure or difficulty.”
Microcatheter Components manufactures and delivers high-precision microcatheter-related components and equipment for applications where extreme precision and controlled mechanical properties are essential to design and performance. Customers demand highest quality and precision and that is exactly what Microcatheter Components delivers.
The applications are interesting. The components that the company creates as an OEM supplier to major manufacturers in healthcare and other industries demand utmost precision. Diane shared, “We have a self-sustaining vibrant company that provides enabling solutions to medical device companies. Our customers provide minimally invasive devices – and ultimately, healing for the patients who need the medical procedures.” Karen, who serves as Chief Financial Officer (CFO), added, “We serve the underserved market. This includes the neonate (preemies) and geriatric markets. Wherever blood vessels are tiny and fragile and need to be accessed for a medical procedure, this is where our investment in highest precision pays dividends. We have the capability to run multiple layers of materials/polymers, and to modulate physical properties.”
The equipment required to provide the extremely high quality and precise components is crucial. To that end, the company will be commissioning its proprietary integrated high-precision extrusion system in the coming weeks. The system will deliver world-class capabilities.
Since having first opened its doors, the company has hired two key individuals, Stephen Brumaghim, an Extrusion Engineer, and Carmen Ferrara, who is the Quality Manager. Stephen is responsible for learning and mastering the operation of the equipment, and the qualification of product processes.
“We ALL share responsibility for quality. Carmen is building our quality system from the ground up,” says Diane. “Carmen is responsible for quality system development and compliance. However, we all share responsibility for product quality.”
Karen further commented, “We hired Stephen and Carmen for their capabilities. Equally important, they embody the values that are important to us – they are honest, ethical, collaborative, and bring great intention to their work.”
How did two sisters with a background in accounting/finance (Karen) and manufacturing (Diane) decide to work together in this new venture?
Diane’s background is in extrusion, manufacturing and engineering in medical and industrial components. Karen’s background is in finance, accounting, information management, and controls. Over the years, both of them engaged each other in many long professional discussions, envisioning together the qualities of a great company.
They have learned to navigate through uncertainty. “Do we make this leap now after talking about it for 15-20 years?” Karen stated. “We decided to do it now. Interest rates are low. State Economic Development resources are available. People are looking for places to invest money. If we do this now, we would have the best access to resources that we would need to lift it off.” And they did, while leaning on the strengths that each brings to the table. “It took our lifetimes to get ready for this. At the end of the day, I trust her,” says Karen.
Customer focus is at the heart. According to Diane, “We want to understand value from our customer’s point of view. What problems do they need solved? What limits their design capabilities? We want to eliminate barriers so that our customers can get what they need. This shows up in the product that we produce and the service we provide.”
Their involvement in both Jaffrey and surrounding communities is well known. Both moved back to Jaffrey in the 1970s and have worked in this area all their professional lives. Karen is proud of her 28 years at DD Bean where she worked as their Corporate Controller. She has also worked at Franklin Pierce College (now Franklin Pierce University). Among her accomplishments was the founding with her husband, Raino, of the original Monadnock Region Chapter of The Compassionate Friends, a support group for bereaved parents. She has served on the Board of Samaritans, the Parents’ School Association for St. Patrick’s School, and the Board of Directors for the Monadnock Learning Center. Karen has also mentored several student participants in the Chamber of Commerce’s Education Committee career exploration and mentoring program. “We are invested in the community – our children were raised in Jaffrey. We want to create opportunity for those who are here.”
With her husband Glen, Diane has raised their two children – Jesse and Lisi – in Jaffrey. She worked for Teleflex for 23 years and, like Karen, has deep roots in the community. She has been involved with the Monadnock United Way and served on their allocations committee and on the United Way Board of Directors. Diane has also served on the Board of the Home Health Hospice and Community Service in Keene. She served as a trustee of the Teleflex Foundation and has developed two programs through the Chamber’s Education Committee. Foundations for Success is a program for middle school students transitioning to high school. Diane also facilitates the Phoenix Leadership Program, as a gift to the community – this is a two-day retreat for high school juniors and seniors and adult community members. During the two-day program, participants consider their lives from a strategic perspective and develop goals in harmony with their values and their own definition of success.
Why Jaffrey? Diane explained that their grandparents met at a dance on Lake Contoocook many years ago. Their grandfather, Henry Rivard, worked at W.W. Cross from the time he was 13 until the day that he retired. He was one of the original founders of the Jaffrey-Rindge Memorial Ambulance Service. Karen and Diane also have four other siblings, all of whom currently live in the Monadnock region.
Starting a business is not easy, but Karen and Diane are pleased with their progress to date. “We’re growing and our plans in 2016 include adding more employees. This all would not have been possible without wonderful support from friends and professional contacts, the State Economic Development people, and a host of local businesses, advisors, and investors. We thank them all!”
The website will be up and running in January at www.microcathco.com . Be sure to visit!
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