Olympus pops cork on $12M deal

Photo by Amanda Swain

Shelby County was abuzz last week when news broke that Olympus plans to construct a new $12 million East Coast national service and distribution center in Bartlett Corporate Park and add 280 jobs. But the project has been in the works for about a year, according to Bartlett Area Chamber of Commerce President John Threadgill.

The company’s Chicago consulting firm and an Olympus representative came to town incognito as an unidentified company looking to invest in a new location. Threadgill got a glimmer that it might be Olympus when the project name was floated: Project Zeus. He immediately made the connection.

Initially, the team was looking for an existing building, but they also agreed to look at virtual buildings, Threadgill said. The Bartlett chamber had just worked on a project with A2H architectural engineering firm for another project, so that virtual structure went into the proposal. Then Bartlett made the short list.

The presentation

The Olympus team was wooed and wowed by representatives of Bartlett’s chamber, the city, the state of Tennessee and the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) with a “one-stop shop” presentation that brought all the players to one location for the team’s convenience.

The Bartlett presentation included speakers from MLG&W, Bartlett City Code Enforcement, Bartlett City Schools, the Greater Memphis Alliance for a Competitive Workforce (GMACW), and the Greater Memphis Medical Device Council (GMMDC).

It was a powerful factor to be able to showcase the area’s worforce through the presentations.

The GMMDC presentation by Roy Smith set Bartlett apart, Threadgill said. “A consultant pulled us to the side and said it was a smart move to have someone from the medical device industry speak. That probably did more than anything else as far as putting a positive light on Bartlett. This person was able to speak the language of the prospect.”

The Olympus team did look at three other areas within a 90-minute drive to the Memphis International Airport, he said. Additional factors that swayed the Olympus team toward Bartlett included their existing Bartlett facility and adjoining property, as well as the close proximity to FedEx.

Construction is expected to begin this spring with the facility going into production as early as this fall, Threadgill said. It will represent a different division of Olympus than the one currently operating in Bartlett. He said the existing facility is more about manufacturing and highly skilled machining.

The new facility, which will double the Olympus footprint in Bartlett, will be more about refurbishing, reconditioning and remanufacturing many delicate technical applications.

It will operate as a service and distribution center for a variety of Olympus medical equipment and devices such as endoscopes, surgical devices and generators.

The decision to build a second national service center was based on Olympus’ need for additional capacity to handle the growth expectations in the service, supply chain and logistics areas of its medical business. Olympus is know as a global medical device and precision technology leader.

Reactions and comments

Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam said, “We thank Olympus for its continued investment in Shelby County and for helping Tennessee be a global leader in the healthcare and medical device sector. This expansion will create new opportunities for hundreds of West Tennessee families. We congratulate Olympus as we continue our work to make Tennessee the No. 1 location in the Southeast for high quality jobs.”

Nacho Abia, president and CEO of Olympus Corporation of the Americas, said, “In addition to unparalleled products, we strive to provide world-class service to our healthcare customers every day. Our future Bartlett service and distribution center will further enable this goal as we take advantage of the unique logistics and transportation capabilities in the Memphis area, benefit from close proximity to our customers in the eastern United States, and enhance our ability to expedite turnaround times. On behalf of my colleagues in our growing medical devices business, I am very much looking forward to expanding our operations in the Bartlett community and creating jobs to be filled with the area’s skilled workforce.”

Local leaders and partners expressed gratitude to Olympus for its decision to expand in Bartlett and create new jobs in West Tennessee.

“We are so excited to have the additional 280 new jobs over the next five years,” Bartlett Mayor A. Keith McDonald said. “We are blest to have Olympus in Bartlett and we know they will attract many other good-paying jobs and other companies to Bartlett and this area. We look forward to contributing to their success and the many great opportunities they will bring here.”

Shelby County Mayor Mark H. Luttrell Jr. also had positive remarks. “This is another indication that companies see the advantage of expanding their businesses in our community. This is welcomed news for Shelby County.”

TVA Senior Vice President of Economic Development John Bradley said, “TVA and Memphis Light Gas and Water congratulate Olympus on its decision to expand in Bartlett, Tennessee and create additional job opportunities. We are proud to partner with Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development, Bartlett Area Chamber of Commerce, Bartlett Industrial Development Board, city of Bartlett and Shelby County to facilitate the growth of existing companies in our region, furthering TVA’s mission of service to attract and retain quality jobs in the Valley.”

Threadgill said, “This announcement is great news for Bartlett, Shelby County and the state and comes at a very fitting time as Bartlett celebrates its 150th anniversary this year. A lot of folks from both the public and private sectors have been working hard to develop and promote our community as a medical device leader. This announcement signifies the continuing success of our efforts.”

About Olympus

Olympus is a global medical device and precision technology leader focused on enhancing people’s lives every day through innovative solutions in its core business areas of Medical and Surgical Products, Scientific Solutions, and Cameras and Audio Recorders. Olympus Corporation of the Americas — a wholly owned subsidiary of Olympus Corporation in Tokyo, Japan — is headquartered in Center Valley, Penn., and employs more than 5,000 people across North and South America.

Written by Carolyn Bahm, Express editor. Contact her at (901) 433-9138 or via email to bartlett.editor@journalinc.com.