Orangeburg-based Zeus Inc. will announce Friday it is establishing its first production facility in Europe. The company will open a multimillion-dollar, 28,000-square-foot facility in Letterkenny, Ireland. The expansion is expected to create 150 jobs over a five-year period. The plant will focus on the production of the company's precision extrusions in Europe's medical, electronics, semiconductor, aviation and aerospace industries. Zeus officials say discussions are also under way to purchase a 2.9-acre lot for future expansion adjacent to the property.
Zeus President and Chief Operating Officer John Worley attributes the Ireland expansion to the recovering global economy and the need for proximity to medical-device customers in Ireland and in the European market in general.
"Zeus reviewed potential locations throughout the world for this new manufacturing facility," Worley said. "We chose Ireland because of its reputation as a country with a highly educated and motivated work force, two factors that are important in the production of high-technology products."
Currently, three Zeus employees are in Ireland handling preparations, with other key Zeus personnel expected to travel to the country for further training of Irish workers, said Karl Graffte, Zeus director of marketing.
"This is going to be really big for us," Graffte said, noting that by manufacturing inside a European Union country, products can be sold in Europe with minimal duties.
Zeus will join a growing list of companies with plants in Ireland.
Today, 16 of the world's top 20 medical device companies, nine of the top 10 pharmaceutical companies and seven of the top 10 software companies have operations in Ireland. Among them are Abbott, Baxter, Boston Scientific, Dell Computer, Intel and Johnson & Johnson.
Worley also cited Ireland's "favorable business environment and extensive medical technology industry cluster" as other reasons for locating there.
"Ireland also is more accessible to our established European customer base, which utilizes our extrusions in highly specialized medical and industrial applications," he said. "We would also like to acknowledge the assistance of IDA Ireland, the Irish government's economic development agency in relation to our investment in Letterkenny."
When the plant in Ireland becomes operational, Zeus will have nine facilities on six campuses in North America and Europe, making it among the largest volume producers of precision fluoropolymer extrusions in the world.
The expansion could not be more timely, Worley said.
In July, Zeus announced a multimillion dollar expansion of its Aiken production facility. The company invested in new extrusion and heat-shrink production lines expected to increase the capacity at the plant.
"Ireland is a hot bed for medical-device manufacturing, and as the leader in our industry, Zeus needs to be there," Worley said. "At the same time, corporations want to partner with suppliers that can deliver large volumes of application-critical extrusions anywhere in the world, whether it's Europe, Asia, or the Americas. Zeus meets this profile. Strategic expansion will reinforce our leadership position in the world marketplace."