For most of its 22-year history, Premio Inc. has assembled custom computers and built screens into machines – like Redbox movie rental kiosks.

But now the company is looking to branch out into medical equipment, from portable ultrasound machines to patient monitors, a market that could mean big growth for the City of Industry contract manufacturer.

“The medical industry has not been affected by the economy at all,” said Gene Lee, vice president of marketing. “There’s quite a bit of funding and demand. It’s a market everyone has identified as full of opportunities.”

Premio already had the technology and manufacturing know-how to build medical devices, and had even built components that other companies integrated into their devices. But it lacked a certification that most medical device companies require from contract manufacturers.

So Premio spent most of the past year getting a medical device manufacturing certification from the International Organization for Standardization, a global body that develops specifications for manufacturing and other business practices.

Lee said that Premio started the certification process late last year. After about 10 months of employee training and audits, as well as investment in new equipment, the company received certification this summer. Now, Premio, which employs 121 workers at its headquarters, is marketing itself to medical device companies.

Lee said few other companies have Premio’s expertise with touch screens, which are becoming more common on medical devices. He expects to market the company’s experience building servers to makers of MRIs and other scanners that need built-in storage for digital images.

“If someone is providing a portable ultrasound, in the past we were able to provide a module with a touch screen. Now, we can pretty much build the whole thing,” he said. “It should help us reach more into the market.”

New Management

Premio isn’t the only company looking to cash in on medical devices. Last week, London private-equity firm Nova Capital Management Ltd. announced it would buy a portfolio of companies including Carson manufacturer Coast Wire & Plastic Tech Inc., a maker of custom cables and wires.

Much of Coast Wire’s business is with makers of medical devices, making the company an attractive target for Nova, said Jan Kreminksi, one of Nova’s operating partners.

“All these companies are serving either very stable or growing end markets,” he said. “Medical is a good example.”

Coast Wire makes custom-designed wires and cables for specific applications. For instance, Kreminski said the company can make tiny wires that are thousandths of an inch thick and could be used in medical implants.

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