Mark Gross has spent years envisioning how his business would look in Chaska.
Gross founded Formacoat in the early 2000s, with a goal of someday moving the company to the city where he lives.
For the past year, he has watched his dream being built in downtown Chaska, off of County Road 61.
On Saturday, Oct. 12, a ribbon-cutting was held to celebrate the construction of the 38,000-square-foot building, adjacent to Cuzzy’s Brick House. It will be operational sometime in November or December, according to Gross. After that, the company will begin the slow process of transferring machinery from its current plant in Savage.
“It took basically 17 years, 18 years to finally be here in Chaska,” Gross said. The business will employ 30 people, with 15 new jobs over the next three years. “The goal of this is to increase the size of our facility and increase the amount of production we can do.”
The company, which coats catheters and wires, will increase in size from 12,000 to 38,000 square feet.
It’s fitting for a company in demand.
“We get customer leads all the time,” Gross said. “We simply perform this service step, it’s like going to get your haircut. They say, ‘Can you please coat our catheter for us?’ And we say ‘Yes’ and we bring it back,” Gross said.
Construction hit several delays, some due to cold weather and the government shutdown earlier this year. However, it’s coming together.
On Oct. 11, finishing touches were being made to the offices and employee common areas, each personalized as Gross had envisioned.
Handmade wooden conference tables are detailed with thin blue glass down the center, representing water. It’s a theme that runs from the exterior of the building, to carpeting, to bathroom tiles.
Desks can be electronically adjusted when employees want to work standing up. The windows are made out of non-reflective bird-safe glass, because of his regard for the environment, and because Gross wants the community so see some of the work going on inside the building.
In the lobby, Gross plans to place a water simulator that shows the flow of water through sand, inspired by one he saw at the Science Museum. The water still has to be dyed blue. After that, a glass top will be placed on top of the simulator and it will be used as a table.
Much of the construction work remaining is taking place at the back of the building. The skeleton of cleaning rooms and machinery to coat products has been meticulously installed.
There’s even a generator that will kick in if the power goes out, outside. At anytime there could be $200,000 or more of material being processed, Gross said. The generator would ensure the company does not lose any money due to a power outage.
The building was constructed with expansion in mind, Gross said. A second floor can someday be converted into office space, complete with an elevator. And there is room to the west for a future 9,000-square-foot expansion, Gross said.
“It’s sized to allow us to stay in this location for a pretty long time,” he said.
For Gross, the process of starting his own company in Chaska started in the early 2000s. After college, he worked for Lifecore Biomedical and moved with them to three locations — their last one being in Chaska.
“I got hired as a production worker making hyaluronic acid,” he said. “I was there for 15 years.”
Soon after he was hired at Lake Region for his expertise in hyaluronic acid because it was used as a coating on guide wires.
“From there I learned all about the coating and all the chemistry that makes it tick, and when I was no longer at Lake Region, the vendor of that particular coating — I approached them on formulating coatings for them,” he said. “They said, ‘No, but if you can put on coatings on devices for customers that don’t want to do it themselves — we will be glad to work with you.’”
Gross attempted to start Formacoat in Chaska 18 years ago, however, the bids he had placed on buildings did not go through. On the advice of former city councilor and friend Alex Young, Gross started the business at 2500 Zinran Ave. in Savage — envisioning moving to Chaska in the future.
The new building will begin processing products sometime later this year once the machinery is up and running. Then client orders will be gradually moved over to Chaska from the Savage plant. Once the other plant stops processing orders, its machinery will be transferred to the new location.
After the machines are moved, they will have to be validated — a process that can take weeks. The lengthy transfer will ensure service isn’t interrupted, he said, adding he estimates it will take up to a year for them to close the Savage facility.
“Then we would have doubled our capacity,” Gross said.