Relucent Solutions began as a consulting business, but clients suggested it expand its offerings to include device prototyping and high-tech laser finishing.
“Primarily we’re here to serve the companies in Santa Rosa with the kind of complex cutting and polishing that they previously sent to vendors out of the area,” said Steve Parmelee, Relucent president, co-founder and director of process development.
This is a significant year for Relucent, he said. It’ll find out whether California, and the North Bay in particular, can support a small, independent contract manufacturing company doing the sort of work that many large companies outsource overseas.
Stents were the company’s first focus because Mr. Parmelee and his co-founder, Maurice Marthaler, worked on the development of stent grafts for the repair of aortic aneurisms.
But Relucent is rapidly expanding its target market to include a broad range of medical devices. The company already has about 25 customers, including most of the local device developers, he said.
“Our expertise straddles professional services and engineering. We can optimize design and develop the process components. Later, our clients return for prototype cutting and laser polishing.”
The partners spent about $400,000 on high-tech equipment, installing it in a 2,000-square-foot space on Circadian Way in Santa Rosa. Self-funded, Relucent became profitable in October 2008, after sales for the second half of 2008 reached $250,000, according to Mr. Parmelee.
The company has five full-time employees and a part-time sales and professional services team.
“We’ll grow as our client list grows. We’re looking for an additional staff member now, as we gear up for the MD&M show in Anaheim. Shows are one of the ways we attract new customers,” he said.
Relucent has done no advertising nor has it sought the attention of trade publications. Its reputation is built on high-quality work at reasonable prices and fast turn-around time, especially for local clients.
Osseon Theraputics in Santa Rosa, which supplies bone cement and cement delivery devices for patients with osteoporosis, is one of them.
“Relucent not only hit all our deadlines, it actually accelerated some of them,” said Osseon President Doug Clark.
“We wanted to make a slight change in the product, a process that can take two to three weeks. That represents a significant loss of time to a device developer. Steve and Maurice and their team did it in two days.”
According to Phil Jobson, vice president of operations for Sonoma Orthopedics, the maker of bone implant devices, used various vendors in the South Bay and out-of-state before turning to Relucent for electro polishing.
“The equipment has to be customized for each job. It would be impossible for a small company like ours to own and operate it. In addition to high-quality work, we like Relucent for the short turn-around time. We don’t have to ship product, we just drop it off,” said Mr. Jobson.
Relucent is familiar with the needs of its local clients, an advantage over other vendors, said Mr. Parmelee. And local manufacturers are familiar with Relucent.