A Gwinnett County-based firm that sells health products in 60 countries has moved production of specialty chairs for dialysis clinics from Taiwan to Georgia

GF Health Products Inc. makes nursing home beds, the company’s top seller, in Wisconsin but works with factories in China and Taiwan to manufacture most of the items in its wide catalog of medical instruments and equipment.

Spending $1.75 million to move chair production near GF’s Georgia headquarters was in line with a strategy employed three years ago to provide better service and more variety to U.S. customers, Ken Spett, the company’s chief executive, told GlobalAtlanta.

Interior design in the clinics is becoming more important, Mr. Spett said. GF offers 60 different fabrics, and customers feel good about the ability to order additional chairs or parts without having to wait 90 days for the next container ship from Asia, he said.

“Our research found that our distributors would pay a few dollars more for a quicker turnaround and more variety,” Mr. Spett said, adding that though the company still sources many products from Asia, it now has to keep fewer chairs in its inventory. 

The move means 17 new jobs at the factory in Doraville, where workers assemble the chair’s lift mechanism, fabricate parts of the frame and sew on the upholstery.

GF timed the move serendipitously, Mr. Spett said. Shipping costs are rising and the dollar’s recent slide has lowered manufacturing costs relative to Asia. Also, having a product made and sold in the U.S. has helped attract certain overseas buyers.

GF is exporting clinical-care recliners to least six countries. The company recently landed a contract in Guadalajara, Mexico, “one of the last places I would’ve expected,” Mr. Spett said.

The clinic wanted a true American product, not a model produced specially for export.

“They actually want a product that is the exact same product that is made and sold in the U.S.,” Mr. Spett said.

Being in the Southeast has other advantages, too, he said, including access to fabrics sold by the stalwarts of the region’s once-prominent textile industry.

Visit www.grahamfield.com for more information.

As managing editor of Global Atlanta, Trevor has spent 15+ years reporting on Atlanta’s ties with the world. An avid traveler, he has undertaken trips to 30+ countries to uncover stories on the perils...