Tino Pereira, CEO of Canada-based Iotron Industries, discussed the electron-beam facility his company opened March 15 in Columbia City, which lies halfway between Fort Wayne and Warsaw in northern Indiana. Iotron already helps some of the orthopedic implant makers in Warsaw alter the strength, flexibility or surface conditions of the materials in the joint replacements they make. That makes Iotron’s services important in research and development for new products.
Iotron’s technology also can be used to sterilize products, including medical devices and even food. The 54,000-square-foot facility in Columbia City houses a 2.5-ton e-beam accelerator and initially will employ as many as 20 people. Iotron hopes business growth lets it ramp up to 60 employees.
IBJ: Why did it make sense to make your first U.S. location in Indiana?
A: It was market specifics. In terms of orthopedics, you guys are the world leader. Agribusiness is a big business and foods. The other one, too, is aerospace and defense. There’s a huge potential there to modify plastics and work with composites. We’ve had some initial discussions with Raytheon and Crane. The second driver was really how the state [and local business groups] made it attractive from a business standpoint. We were enticed to come. The level of engagement with us, not only from the beginning but right up to where we are now, hasn’t stopped and it’s been really impressive.
IBJ: You talk about serving businesses in Indiana, but do you also hope to secure clients outside the state?
A: Our initial focus was in a 300-mile radius. Although, it doesn’t mean at a later date we won’t reach out further. What Indiana offers is just tremendous logistics. People always talk about just-in-time service and inventory reduction, but we can actually deliver it now.
IBJ: How are your discussions with potential clients progressing?
A: Over the last two months, we’ve really ramped up to try to get them out of the exploratory phase or the conceptual phase, and get them into the process phase and the validation phase. We’ve got good interest from the orthopedic, medical-device and agribusiness sectors. We’re a technology that will add some value to the state. And we’re extremely excited about being in the area.