Maine Manufacturing to add jobs with acquisition of GE product line


SANFORD — Maine Manufacturing LLC has acquired a line of laboratory products from a division of General Electric, a move that will allow it to add jobs at its facility in Sanford.

Maine Manufacturing, which employees about 105 people in Sanford, on Thursday announced it had acquired from GE Healthcare a line of products used by the food and beverage industry to test for contamination, according to John Tonkinson, the company’s vice president of sales and marketing.

“The products will be made in our Sanford facility and we will be selling them worldwide,” Tonkinson wrote in an email.

The acquisition of the product line will be seamless. That’s because Maine Manufacturing was already manufacturing the products for GE Healthcare, Bill Emhiser, the company’s president, told the Bangor Daily News.

Until today, Maine Manufacturing had been a contract manufacturer and GE Healthcare was its sole customer, Emhiser said. Maine Manufacturing would manufacture the products and GE Healthcare would sell them to its customers. This acquisition, Emhiser said, means Maine Manufacturing will sell directly to consumers, allowing it to increase its profit margins.

“What this does is diversify our customer base,” Emhiser said. “We used to have one customer. Starting today we have 500 customers.”

The acquisition will allow Maine Manufacturing to hire as many as 10 new employees in Sanford over the next two months, Emhiser said.

He wouldn’t share financial details about the acquisition, except to say it’s “a drop in the bucket for General Electric,” which is a $200 billion company.

This acquisition comes on the heels of one announced in early December, in which Maine Manufacturing acquired from GE the assets of its laboratory filter and membrane business, including two manufacturing facilities in Westborough, Mass., and 60 or so employees, Emhiser said. The 60 employees in Massachusetts bring the company’s total employee count to 165.

Maine Manufacturing was founded in 2007 by Craig Cunningham, a Maine native, who soon was joined by Emhiser. Both had been employees of Whatman Inc., which was a British company that previously operated the facility in Sanford.

In 2008, GE Healthcare acquired Whatman and soon after announced plans to shutter the Sanford facility and move the work elsewhere. At that time, Cunningham and Emhiser negotiated with GE to keep some of the business in Maine.

“We knew the operation, we knew the products, we had contacts … so we were able to leverage that knowledge and convince GE to sell us pieces of the business,” Emhiser said. “It helps to have some inside knowledge.”

GE agreed and Maine Manufacturing hired back about 65 employees in 2010.

Emhiser called it an “employee-dedicated business.”

“Part of our whole rationale is to retain or create jobs,” he said. “We’re in the latter stages of our careers, so part of this is to give back to the communities that supported us over the years.”