SoClean, an international medical supply company, is opening its second North American location in Kalispell in October and eventually anticipates having a workforce of “upwards of 250 or more employees.”
Operations in the new Kalispell facility will include “in-bound sales, customer service, information technology support, marketing, programming, different executive levels…and human resources,” according to SoClean Chief Executive Officer Bob Wilkins. “It’s the whole gamut of how you’d see a company run.
“We’re coming here because both [Chief Information Officer] Keith Brown and I have experience with building companies here in the valley,” Wilkins said. The head of the Peterborough, New Hampshire-headquartered company said he started a previous company in Kalispell with about 200 employees in the 1990s. He said Brown also brings local knowledge as a longtime Flathead Valley resident.
SoClean makes and sells automatic cleaning devices for Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP) machines, a leading treatment for people who suffer from obstructive sleep apnea. The press release also stated SoClean is “the creator of the world’s first automated CPAP cleaner and sanitizer.”
“SoClean’s been growing,” Wilkins noted. “We looked at Utah, Colorado and Florida” for SoClean’s second North American office. “We felt this was the right place.”
He lauded the area, the people and the attitude here as the main draws for establishing SoClean in Kalispell.
“What a great place to bring people,” he said. “People are just blown away by it.”
Wilkins also stated the majority of its 250 or more employees will be local hires.
“About 95%” will be recruited locally, he said, while a few executives and experienced employees will transfer from the East Coast office.
He recognized bringing on such a large workforce is a significant addition to the local business community and said they are “super excited about it.
“We’re proud to be part of the community,” he added.
Even with such a big endeavor, Wilkins isn’t concerned about potential challenges with hiring or housing a couple of hundred employees. He explained SoClean management is aware of concerns about a shortage of affordable housing in the area, but the company doesn’t foresee this as an issue for its new hires.
“We’ve definitely talked about it and looked into what housing is right now,” he said. “Affordable housing is an issue all around the country…it really wasn’t a big concern. We’re not a low-paying employer,” he pointed out. “We pay good wages.”
He said he feels there are a number of compelling reasons beyond the competitive pay to join the SoClean team. SoClean is “a fabulous company,” according to Wilkins. He described their office as “more of a tech company, a California company” with dog-friendly policies, “fun zones,” amenities and flex time. He said their goal is to have “longevity for employees. We believe in getting people in, training them and moving them upward.
“Med tech and MedTech Direct is starting to happen,” he noted, referring to a process by which consumers purchase medical technology directly instead of through a medical retailer or other third party. There’s also a growing market for CPAP cleaning machines, he said, and the “sleep apnea market is growing 9 to 10 percent a year.”
Wilkins added that SoClean soon will be branching out beyond CPAP cleaners.
“We’re taking the technology and applying it to other industries,” he said, with additional products coming out in 2020.
SoClean will hold a number of job fairs in the area and begin local operations in October. Company officials haven’t yet disclosed the location of the Kalispell facility, saying only that it is in a “very large building with lots of daylight.”
Reporter Bret Anne Serbin may be reached at email@example.com or 758-4459.