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September 30, 2003

For more information please contact:
Muriel Mosher
Tel: 207-623-0680

Maine MEP Assists Gray Company with New Product

GRAY, ME - When officials at Spirometrics Inc. of Gray were looking for a Maine company to develop final production tooling for a new product line, they turned to the Maine Manufacturing Extension Partnership (Maine MEP) for guidance.

“I was familiar with the Maine MEP because of some Lean training I had done with the organization,” said Dominic Pelletier, vice president of product development for Spirometrics Inc.

“I knew if any organization could help me find a Maine company to produce our new product it was the Maine MEP,” he said.

“We always love to hear that,” said Rod Rodrigue, president of the Maine MEP. “Our reputation for assisting manufacturing companies of all sizes and shapes certainly has spread throughout Maine’s manufacturing industry and our product managers are always available to help whenever they can.” The Spriometrics success was especially important to Maine MEP, Rodrigue said, “because here was one Maine company looking to find another Maine company with which to do business. Anytime we can do that, we’ve assisted two Maine manufacturers succeed.”

“Our challenge was to find a local company to make our new product in Maine,” said Pelletier. “We felt a local company would be more able to understand our development and production needs in terms of pricing, and would be sensitive in helping us develop our prototype and complete testing within a reasonable time.”

A quick call to Maine MEP solved the problem, Pelletier said. “The product managers at MEP put us in touch with Shape Global in Sanford, and that company has done everything we could have hoped for, and more.

“In fact,” he added, “I can’t say enough for the people at Shape. They have bent over backwards to help us and they have become a true partner in the development of our new products.”

Spirometrics is a 20-year-old manufacturer and designer of medical devices used in the testing of lung capacity and airway restriction in asthmatic patients. Physicians use the spirometers manufactured by the company to evaluate volume of air, peak flow and other air flow parameters. This allows the doctor to analyze a patient’s lung function, discover pulmonary diseases and optimize medication levels.

The company, which has 15 employees, recently developed a new version of the ‘SprioFlow,’ a peak flow meter designed for personal use. “The SpiroFlow is very discrete and allows individuals to use it without bringing a lot of attention to themselves,” Pelletier said.

The main function of the SpiroFlow is to help the patient monitor his or her condition over several days or months. This allows the doctor to determine if the prescribed medication plan is correct.

“Many children have asthmatic conditions and must regularly monitor the air flow of their lungs,” Pelletier said. “Unfortunately, many other peak flow meters are inaccurate, large, awkward and not easily concealed. Our SpiroFlow is both easy to conceal and not overly medical looking,” he added.

Pelletier said that makes it more likely the child will use it when they are supposed to and get the greatest benefit from it.

While Spirometrics had an adult version of the device, the latest SprioFlow is brand new and designed mostly for children.

“We have great hope for our SpiroFlow,” Pelletier said, “and I can’t thank the Maine MEP enough for what it did for us.”

In addition to putting Pelletier in touch with Shape Global, the MEP program managers also helped Spirometrics write a grant application for research and development funds, assisted in finding a patent attorney for the company and is helping to obtain the certification necessary for worldwide sales for the new device.

As a result of the assistance provided by Maine MEP, the product, the Children’s SpiroFlow is now on the market and is poised to dramatically enhance the profitability of the company, as well as helping the company expand into new geographic markets.

“I really enjoyed working with the Maine MEP,” Pelletier said. “I feel as if it became another true partner in this project. Believe me, I will be glad to recommend Maine MEP to other companies in the state.”

The Maine MEP is an affiliate of the NIST under the U.S. Department of Commerce. The national MEP is a network of manufacturing extension centers that provide business and technical assistance to smaller manufacturers in all 50 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico. Through MEP, manufacturers have access to more than 2000 manufacturing and business “coaches” whose job is to help firms make changes that lead to greater productivity, increased profits, and enhanced global competitiveness. For more information on the Maine MEP program call 1-800-637-4634.