An Augusta-based medical mask manufacturer is moving its production to a larger facility in McDuffie County.
United Medical Enterprises has acquired the former Hollander Sleep Products plant in Thomson, Ga., to nearly triple its production of face masks by early next year.
The Augusta-based company, which closed on the 208,000-square-foot building Monday, said it intends to be producing nearly 1.6 million masks per day by April.
United Medical CEO Herschel Pitts said the former McDuffie County bedding plant will house its entire manufacturing operation, leaving its existing 72,000-square-foot production facility in south Augusta at 4049 Allen Station Road as a warehouse for raw materials and finished goods.
“Our size has quadrupled in the past six months,” Pitts said, noting brisk demand for face masks caused by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. “I’ve got a lot of new equipment coming in and we needed more room.”
Pitts said the relocation should boost United Medical’s employment from 98 to at least 120. He said only five employees have opted out of following the operation from south Augusta to Thomson.
“The new location will open up the doors to a lot of employees from a lot of different areas,” said Pitts, who founded the company in Grovetown in 1995. “We think we’ll end up with quite a bit more than 120 (employees).”
United Medical, a privately held affiliate of Montreal-based AMD Medicom Inc., did not disclose its total investment in the new operation. The former Hollander building, which was shuttered last summer just five years of operation, sold for $7 million.
The 40-acre property, at 3301 Stagecoach Road, is just north of Thomson’s Interstate 20 exit 175, which is also the site of Advanced Auto Parts’ regional distribution center.
The former Hollander facility, previously owned by New York-based Lexington Realty Trust, was co-listed by Augusta’s Atkins Commercial Properties and CBRE Group’s Atlanta office. Augusta-based Willingham Commercial represented United Medical in the transaction.
Hollander constructed the building in 2014 to produce pillows and mattress pads. The Florida-based company shifted production to its larger East Coast plants in 2019 shortly after filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, resulting in 175 local layoffs.
“It’s a huge win any time you can replace manufacturing with manufacturing, because nowadays manufacturing is often substituted by distribution, which is fewer jobs,” Atkins Commercial Properties broker Scott Atkins said. “It’s a phenomenal building – turn-key and ready to go.”
United Medical produces a variety of medical supplies but primarily makes disposable face masks and dental pouches, the latter of which are paper-and-film bags that hold dental equipment during the autoclave sterilization process.
The former Hollander plant was the only available building in a 50-mile radius suitable for United Medical’s needs, Willingham Commercial broker Jay Willingham said.
“What I’m seeing is that companies are going into vacant buildings and creating jobs that keep our local people employed,” he said. “These buildings are really filling up.”
Prior to the pandemic, United Medical produced roughly 250,000 masks daily, primarily for North American customers. The company currently makes 520,000 a day, but the new equipment that will be installed in the former Hollander plant later this year – along with the machines relocated from south Augusta – should triple the company’s mask production by April.
“Both facilities will be running for about three or four months at the same time,” Pitts said. “We don’t see the demand for masks slowing down any time soon.”