Medical device maker Medtronic Puerto Rico Operations Co. is marking a milestone — 40 years of presence on the island — with a strong track record and expectations for maintaining its status as a “hub” of innovation for the global giant.
The operation is also in wait-and-see mode regarding the local effects of what could be a major change ahead with the proposed $43 billion transaction through which Medtronic would take over rival Covidien.
During an interview Thursday, Felix Negrón, vice president of operations at Medtronic in Puerto Rico, said while the proposed deal has yet to be sealed, Medtronic already has a team in place responsible for mapping out the company’s future business operations.
That strategy would include Puerto Rico, where Medtronic employs more than 3,000 people at its manufacturing plants in Villalba, Juncos and Humacao, and its sales office in Guaynabo. Covidien, meanwhile, currently employs 2,200 people at its Sabanetas Industrial Park campus in Ponce.
“When the time comes, we would have to evaluate what impact, if any, the transaction would have in Puerto Rico, given that the general intention behind buying Covidien is to add products to Medtronic’s portfolio,” Negrón said. “We don’t know whether the Covidien plant in Ponce will remain, but their products are different from ours, so it would make sense for them to stay.”
Medtronic’s Puerto Rico operation represents all of the company’s business units: Cardiac Rhythm Heart Failure; Neuromodulation; Diabetes; Spinal & Biologics; and Surgical Technologies. At its local plants, Medtronic produces devices for cardiac conditions from pacemakers and defibrillators to cables for connecting to the heart; catheters, implantable drug pumps for pain; insulin pumps for diabetes, and devices for spinal, neurological and orthopedic procedures and therapies, among other devices.
Together, the manufacturing plants on the island — which comprise a combined 605,000 square feet — are currently responsible for more than 40 percent of corporate earnings worldwide.
“This anniversary is a grand achievement for everyone. For the corporation it highlights our continued presence in Puerto Rico over the past four decades, contributing to the local economy and acting as a good corporate citizen in line with our mission of improving the quality of life of our patients,” Negrón said.
“For employees, the anniversary speaks to a world-class company that provides products and therapies that help improve a life every three seconds around the world,” he said.
Negrón added that Medtronic’s longevity and success on the island stems from both the quality of the processes and products it undertakes, as well as its local employees.
“We are fortunate to have high caliber employees throughout all levels of the company, committed to working with dedication day after day,” he said. “Our employees appreciate the privilege of playing a role in the wellbeing of our patients through the application of biomedical engineering to alleviate pain, restore health and extend life.”
While the local manufacturing sector is experiencing challenges, Negrón said Medtronic has succeeded because of its focus on quality products and efficient manufacturing.
“We maintain a high level of excellence in our quality control systems, supply and costs, with a highly reliable workforce. We are relentless in the search for continued improvement,” said the executive, noting that the strategy includes working with local suppliers to maintain costs at bay.