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With an Expansion Plan Valued at $80 Million, Coloplast Strengthens its Presence in Costa Rica and Opens Second Medical Devices Plant

With an Expansion Plan Valued at $80 Million, Coloplast Strengthens its Presence in Costa Rica and Opens Second Medical Devices Plant

  • The use of renewable energy and Costa Rican human talent were decisive criteria in the decision to open the Danish firm’s only Latin American operation.
  • Up to now, a company's program has trained 62 Costa Ricans at its plants in Hungary with the objective of enriching the processes of its production center in La Lima Free Zone.
Cartago, Costa Rica. Coloplast, a world leader in ostomy care and continence care within the life sciences sector, inaugurated its second medical device volume production center in the La Lima Free Zone (LLFZ) Industrial Park, in Cartago. This marks a strengthening of the company’s Costa Rican expansion plan, valued at a total of U.S. $80 million, and will reach approximately 450 employees by the end of 2022, twice as many employees as the previous year.

Present at the opening ceremony was Kristian Villumsen, CEO of Coloplast, who visited the country to celebrate with the local team and see the facilities at LLFZ, the company's only manufacturing site in Latin America.

Coloplast is the first Danish company within Costa Rica’s medical cluster and the only ostomy product manufacturer in the country. Their Costa Rican location plays a valuable role in optimizing productivity to help more than two million people around the world with their intimate healthcare conditions. The firm’s goal is to grow globally – between 7% and 9% year-over-year – towards 2025 to meet growing demand in the 130+ markets in which it operates.

Last September, the company’s first building was inaugurated as part of Coloplast’s robust national development strategy. Now, their new facility, which is opening in May 2022, will manufacture a selection of products complementary to the company’s ostomy portfolio.

With this announcement, Coloplast Costa Rica continues to strengthen the company's global network, currently comprising 10 plants in eight countries. Rudolf Ottófi, general manager of Coloplast Costa Rica, reiterated that the country’s role is essential to the company achieving its global growth goal. Currently, Costa Rica represents around 2% of world production; it is projected that, by 2025, this figure will increase to around 25%.

“As our operation in Costa Rica grows, we will have a greater capacity for providing innovative products and services that make a difference in our end users’ quality of life. In this regard, Costa Rica offers us various strategic advantages that drive our plans with a view to 2025. We are close to the United States – a key market for Coloplast and where we hope to expand in coming years. Additionally, both plants in Cartago will be connected to the country's electricity grid, supplied 99% by renewable sources. This supports Coloplast's sustainability goal to, by 2025, use 100% renewable energy in its production,” Ottófi confirmed.

Work model enhances development opportunities for Cartago and the country
Coloplast launched its Cartago operations in 2019; the company estimates that it will create 700 jobs before 2025, among them operators, technicians, administrative staff, and positions in quality management, the supply chain, and logistics.

As this represents a new and specialized industry, the company has a training plan for developing both the technical skills and the soft skills necessary for each position. Under an on-the-job training methodology, their staff is motivated to “learn by doing,” with the support and supervision of an experienced employee.

Thanks to this program, a total of 62 people – mainly technicians and operators – have traveled to Hungary to train in the manufacturing processes carried out in Cartago.

In addition, since 2021, Coloplast has been part of the La Lima Free Zone alliance to support labor market opportunities for people in vulnerable conditions and who live near the industrial park. Via this platform, the company collaborated with the VM Institute to train 53 people in the areas of medical manufacturing operations and electromechanical technician skills. At the end of the training, Coloplast hired 100% of the candidates who participated in its recruitment process. It is worth noting that between March and May 2022, 58 more people began their training in the same fields.

Ottófi, a company spokesperson, applauded the country's interest in developing talent equipped with the skills necessary for the medical technology industry.

Coloplast aspires to offer an attractive work environment with the clear idea that its employee well-being is essential. In the face of evolving work habits and lifestyles, and in response to people's needs, the company is working on two lines of action that will bring benefits to the Costa Rican team: a 24/7 employee assistance program and a policy for remote work / flexible scheduling.

Added to this vision is Coloplast’s modern and spacious architectural design at each of its two buildings, which prioritize natural lighting and ergonomics. New construction includes office space, a warehouse, a cafeteria, and a gym equipped with weights and cardiovascular equipment, for exclusive employee use. Likewise, the manufacturing area incorporates high-level technology with large-scale machinery and automated processes.

The national medical industry is expanding, despite the health crisis. According to data shared by PROCOMER, precision and medical equipment -the country's main export sector- reported a 33% growth in sales (+$1,312 million), versus the 2020 period. In 2021, the products with the highest growth were medical devices (+$1,289 million). The positive trend is more noticeable when comparing exports between 2019 and 2021, figures that reflect a growth rate of almost 44%.

Coloplast Costa Rica Facts
Its inclusive work model values diversity and provides development opportunities to people of all different age groups. To date, the Coloplast Costa Rica team is mainly comprised of 43% people aged 40+ and another 24% who are 20 and 25 years old. Of the total, 37% are women and about 78% work in specialized manufacturing positions, which are essential to the production of high-quality products.

Job Training | Testimonials
As an example of this practice, operator Yorleny Alvarado, a Cartago resident and mother to four, offers her testimony and highlights the fact that, among the many advantages of her training, were lessons on values.

“When I joined Coloplast, I had no idea and when I saw the product, I thought it was amazing. I put myself in the place of our users and that makes me even more attentive to the details. You have to put a lot of love into your work!” Alvarado emphasized. “I recommend, for anyone who is interested – apply and continue studying. Take advantage of all the courses you can complete,” she added.

Eugenio Ramírez, also a resident of Cartago, has worked at Coloplast for four years. His two training trips to Hungary motivated him to study to be a production technician, which in turn earned him a promotion to production assistant.

“I spent eight months there and getting to know a new culture was nice. When I arrived, I was scared, but it was an incredible experience because during that time I learned about new products – about how and why they are made. I understood their importance and that every little bit counts, because everything is a group effort to deliver a quality device to the final customer,” explained Ramírez.

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