Tuesday, April 24, 2018
Business

Med-Nap towelette firm moves south from New England

BROOKSVILLE — Pierre Sanfacon sees positive things for the future of his business, and he believes Brookville offers the ideal climate for them to happen.

The owner of Med-Nap, a small manufacturing company that makes antiseptic towelettes like the ones handed out in restaurants, Sanfacon said he thought hard before deciding last year to relocate his 7-year-old business from New Hampshire to south Brooksville. A big part of his decision came down to one simple factor: the weather.

Sanfacon, 47, who was born and raised in Quebec, said he simply got tired of the chill of New England winters. And because the mostly automated operation doesn't require expansive infrastructure, he could set up shop just about anywhere.

"I've wanted to live the Florida lifestyle for a long time, and I'm at a point in my life where I feel I can do that," said Sanfacon, who is in the process of building a home in Hernando Beach.

Sanfacon's experience in the manufacturing business dates back two decades, when he began working with his father's company, which produces restaurant supplies such as paper place mats, plastic cutlery, coffee napkins and other items. In 2007, he launched his own company in Concord, N.H., for which he designed and built the manufacturing equipment.

Sanfacon said the company's success is built primarily around processing innovations that emphasize low operating costs and high volume, producing product in bulk that's ready for shipment moments after it's made.

Sanfacon, who has a degree in mechanical engineering, designed and built the processing equipment that coats the towelettes with a solution of benzalkonium chloride, then seals them in individual packets. Fiercely protective of his innovative design, he staunchly refuses to allow photographs to be taken inside the plant on Marianne Street, previously the home of Micro Matic USA, which moved its operations to the industrial area at Brooksville-Tampa Bay Regional Airport.

"I'm in a very competitive business," he said. "I worry that someone will copy what I've done here and use that to gain an advantage on me."

Although Med-Nap currently employs 10 people, that's about to change with expansion plans that include the construction of a "clean room," where Sanfacon intends to manufacture medical-grade towelettes. The facility, which is expected to be completed later this year, could mean the addition of another five or six employees, he said.

Though Sanfacon believes that his business is poised for steady growth, he worries that he may not be able to best his global competitors, whose companies often operate with little or no government oversight. For example, the medical towelette division must operate under strict standards set by the Food and Drug Administration, a regulation with which he's happy to comply. But the same standard doesn't apply to many Asian companies, he said.

"It's an uneven playing ground," Sanfacon said. "I know I'm going to lose some business because I can't lower costs. It's just how business works these days. You do what you can and make the best of it."

Med-Nap setting up shop in Brooksville is particularly good news for a community where the arrival of new businesses has been rare. Dennis Wilfong, the city's volunteer business ambassador, said that Sanfacon's company is ideal for the area because the company's profits don't venture beyond Hernando County's borders.

"You can't really say that about Walmart or McDonald's," Wilfong said. "Every dime that's earned by the employees and the company remains right here in the community. I wouldn't mind seeing more of that."

Logan Neill can be reached at [email protected] or (352) 848-1435.

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