A Publication of WTVP

In 2008, Cook Medical announced it was building a new medical devices manufacturing plant at the location of the former International Harvester facility in Canton, Illinois. Construction of the 45,000-square-foot project is nearly complete and is targeted to begin operating in April 2010.

Cook Medical was one of the first companies to popularize interventional medicine, pioneering many of the devices now commonly used worldwide to perform minimally invasive medical procedures. Today, the company integrates minimally invasive medical device design, biopharma, gene and cell therapy, and biotech to enhance patient safety and improve clinical outcomes in the fields of aortic intervention; interventional cardiology; critical care medicine; gastroenterology; radiology, peripheral vascular, bone access and oncology; surgery and soft tissue repair; urology; and assisted reproductive technology, gynecology and high-risk obstetrics.

The Bloomington, Indiana-based company plans to hire 50 to 75 employees initially, with employment expected to grow to up to 300 jobs in the next few years.

IMEC’s Tucker Kennedy spoke with Shawn Lawrence, general manager of the Cook Canton facility, about progress on the new facility.

Tell us about Cook Medical.
Cook Medical was started in 1963 in a spare bedroom with two employees, Bill and Gayle Cook. The company continues to grow. We manufacture more than 50,000 products and sell them throughout the world. Cook currently employs over 9,000 people worldwide.

How has the global recession affected your business?
We have felt the effects of the downturn just like many other companies have. However, because of our innovative processes, the company continues to grow. In fact, all segments of our business are growing.

What will the facility in Canton produce?
The Cook Canton facility will initially focus on the production of the Cook angiographic catheter. This is a device that is used to diagnose such anomalies as coronary artery disease. As we progress, we will certainly produce other Cook products in Canton.

Tell us about the decision to build the plant in central Illinois.
Bill Cook grew up in Canton, Illinois, and graduated from Canton High School. He has a strong philosophy of giving back to communities and to be a sort of catalyst to inspire others in the area to assist in the revitalization of the region.

It’s been several years since the Peoria Metro Area has seen an investment from a “new” manufacturer like yours. What attracted the company to this region?
In addition to the strong personal ties Mr. Cook has in the area, there is a strong work ethic in the Midwest communities. We’re confident that we can be very successful here.

Getting a manufacturing facility ready to operate must be a challenge. What kinds of things are you concentrating on?
Our concentration is multifaceted. Right now, the focus for the facility is to create not only an aesthetically attractive building, but also to ensure the facility meets the stringent Cook standards necessary for the manufacture of very high-quality products. We currently have 33 employees, 29 of which are being trained on production and quality control at the Cook Global Headquarters in Bloomington, Indiana.

How many people will you employ? What are the characteristics of the workforce that you’ll be looking to hire?
When Cook Canton reaches full capacity, we will employ approximately 300 people. The characteristic most important for a successful Cook employee is to be very quality-focused and take pride in knowing that the things they do every day will help to improve the lives of others.

Anything else you would like to offer about Cook Medical and the new operation?
Cook Medical remains committed to maintaining the utmost integrity by fulfilling the promises made to our customers, employees and patients, worldwide. We look forward to accomplishing this goal from our new home in Canton. iBi