Chester sterilization plant celebrates expansion

By Daniel Axelrod 


Times Herald-Record 


CHESTER – Bacteria beware. Here come Steris employees to save the day – or at least to save surgeons and scientists.


Steris executives celebrated with local leaders Thursday as the Mentor, Ohio, company opened a roughly $26 million expansion of its Chester sterilization plant, where medical and lab research equipment will be cleaned.


Steris will add between 25 and 30 employees, depending upon the company’s workload, to the new 60,000-square-foot plant.


They’ll work across the street from 110 of their colleagues, who use older gamma irradiation sterilization technology at the 110,000-square-foot building the company opened in 1992.


The yearlong construction project by V. Paulius & Associates employed 80 workers.


Given Steris’ status as a global firm, the company could have expanded anywhere, said Orange County Partnership President and CEO Maureen Halahan, whose organization lures local development.


So, the firm’s choice of Chester “is really a win for Orange County, the Industrial Development Agency and the New York state incentives program,” Halahan added. “It’s about our jobs. It’s about our community. And it’s about making sure our lives are enriched with good-paying jobs.”


Steris executives, Halahan and Republican Orange County Executive Steve Neuhaus repeatedly thanked and complimented each other for working well together to facilitate the project.


“We’ve expanded several times since we first built in Chester in 1992 because Orange County and the partnership have been such a great partner to us,” said Mark Thomas, Steris’ vice president of operations and technology.


 Neuhaus credited Steris executives like Thomas, who serves as Chester’s fire department chief, for becoming integral members of the community.


“What does this expansion mean?” Neuhaus asked. “It’s about Steris putting people to work. It’s about people being able to afford to live here. You (Steris employees) live here and you give back to the community.”


The new sterilization plant also marks an important milestone for the Chester Industrial Park. It’s been 35 years since V. Paulius & Associates, of Allendale, N.J., first constructed the park, but it’s now fully built out.


Half a dozen companies, including Steris’ neighbors like C&S Wholesale Grocers, Inc., AMSCAN, Inc. and Pep Boys, now operate at the park.


“What we like about Chester is that the municipality has always been very interested in having quality (property tax) ratables,” said Lawrence “Pat” Kramer, executive vice president of V. Paulius & Associates. “When companies come here, they appreciate the workers and the talent pool.”