Wet wipe manufacturer Iatric Manufacturing Solutions welcomed U.S. Rep. Phil Roe, R-First Congressional District, for a tour of the facility on Friday in Morristown.
With Iatric General Manager Joe Molitor leading the tour, Roe and several members of Hamblen County’s business and educational community got to take a look at the state-of-the-art facility for the Wisconsin-based company.
“People in Morristown know how to make stuff,” Molitor said. “Turning raw materials into finished goods is what makes the city work.”
Roe, who is currently serving his sixth term representing East Tennessee in the United States House of Representatives, said Morristown has reinvented itself during his tenure in Washington. Currently, 60% of the city’s economy comes from industry.
“When I was sworn in (to office), it was during the financial crisis,” he said. “Businesses were closing down throughout the area.
“Morristown has rebranded itself. They stepped right up and courted new industries.”
Roe said Hamblen County is the perfect location for businesses like Iatric. Interstate 81, I-40, I-75 and I-26 can be easily accessed from Morristown, so finished products can be transported very easily.
“Raw materials can be transported by train, and there are four interstates nearby,” he said. “You can look at the human capital, and know our schools can easily produce quality workers.”
Iatric creates its products in an extremely sanitized, climate-controlled and clean environment. All employees must wash their hands before entering the production floor, and proper shoe covering must be worn at all times.
For security purposes, cameras and cell phones are not allowed inside the production area. Roe was impressed by the efficiency of the process, especially as a medical professional for 31 years in Johnson City.
“I’ve gone through tons of manufacturing plants - and this is the cleanest environment I’ve ever been through,” Roe said. “They’re making quality products right here in this building that I use in my practice and in hospitals every day.”
“Other visitors to Iatric have said this facility is cleaner than many food-production facilities,” Molitor said.
Despite inclement weather delaying the initial project, construction of the facility took about 18 months from conception to completion at a cost of around $40 million - with more investment in the coming years. New equipment is being installed, and a new project building more conference rooms and labs expected to be completed in 2021.
Iatric has two production lines for its over-the-counter products, which are approved by the Food and Drug Administration. Two more lines are currently under construction, and should be operational by next year, with a total of 11 to be up and running by 2022.
Iatric employs 111 people. The new construction is expected to create around 100 new jobs by 2021. Those new jobs are expected to be filled by well-trained graduates of the high schools of the Lakeway Area, as well as graduates from the Tennessee College of Applied Technology - Morristown.
“Students in the area have many great options,” Roe said. “They can go to college, and if they don’t want to go to a four-year college, there are a lot of training programs so they can get good, high-paying jobs like (Iatric).”