Success is in their blood
There’s a family dynamic at Sekisui Diagnostics PEI that extends halfway around the world.
Sekisui has been on Prince Edward Island for five years but their history of producing clinical chemistry products in the province dates to 1971, when Dr. Regis Duffy started Diagnostic Chemicals (DCL).
DCL grew until it was purchased in 2007 by Genzyme and then Genzyme was bought in 2011 by Sekisui Chemical. Sekisui Diagnostics PEI is part of a Japanese organization, Sekisui Chemical, which has been in operation since 1947, making everything from modular SMART houses to supplying 50 per cent of the world's vehicle windshields.
In PEI, Sekisui Diagnostics produces 1.5 billion clinical chemistry tests that are shipped to hospitals and clinics around the world every year. If you or someone you know has had blood work done, chances are good that the testing materials came from the Charlottetown Sekisui plant.
“We mostly produce large liquid batches of product and chemicals that then get pumped into smaller bottles through our automated packaging lines,” said plant manager Brian Stewart. “The bottles are assembled by hand into kits which are then shipped and sold globally."
The family mentality still lives on at Sekisui Diagnostics PEI.
"We still have many folks who started with DCL when it was a smaller family run company. People generally care for one another, and that atmosphere can sometimes be lost in bigger companies." - Brian Stewart, plant manager
There’s no arguing that the personal touch is part of the success of Sekisui PEI. The company was named 2016 Exporter of the Year by Trade Team PEI for increasing exports of Island products. Since Sekisui Chemical purchased the site in 2011, revenues have grown by 125 per cent and they have added 50 staff positions.
The Charlottetown plant is currently undergoing a multi-million dollar renovation and expansion that will modernize its facilities and expand the product line to keep up with future demand. There will even be some Japanese touches in a new courtyard which will feature a garden with ornaments and birdfeeders.
Colleagues from Japan enjoy visiting Prince Edward, especially in the warmer months.
“A certain red-haired girl is always a big draw,” Stewart noted. “Of course Anne of Green Gables is a very well-known story in Japan. I think this connection to Japan makes us unique, and it is fun and interesting for both sides to learn more about each other’s culture.”
These cross-cultural learning opportunities have even led to some competitive wins. At a recent North American Kaizen (Japanese for “good change”) competition, the PEI team won gold over 10 other teams. The Island competitors will travel to Japan in January 2017 to compete in the Global Sekisui Kaizen competition in Kyoto.