Mesa-based laser maker grows - East Valley Tribune: Business

Mesa-based laser maker grows

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Posted: Monday, July 14, 2003 7:16 am | Updated: 1:12 pm, Thu Oct 6, 2011.

Erchonia Medical, a Mesabased company that makes low-power lasers for therapeutic purposes, is moving into a new $1.7 million building that will nearly double the company’s floor space.

The expansion is needed because the company is growing at a rate of nearly 50 percent a year, said Steve Shanks, president and co-founder.

Groundbreaking for the 15,000-square-foot building at 4451 E. Indigo St., in a business park near Falcon Field Municipal Airport, will take place in September, with completion scheduled for March 2004.

Erchonia makes low-level lasers that the company says will accelerate healing and decrease pain. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has given marketing approval to Erchonia’s portable hand-held devices for pain reduction, and the company hopes to win FDA approval this fall to use them in wound healing and to assist in liposuction operations.

Low-level therapeutic lasers, which do not produce heat and therefore don’t burn or cut the skin, have previously been used for investigational and clinical trials only. Low-level lasers are commonly used for such purposes as bar code check out, laser printers and compact disc players in addition to medical procedures.

Erchonia has produced about 2,500 therapeutic lasers and related devices in the past four years for use by chiropractors, cosmetic surgeons, dermatologists, physical therapists, pain management specialists and others. Erchonia lasers are being used by a physician traveling with the U.S. Postal Service cycling team at the Tour de France to relieve cyclists’ muscle pain after each stage of the race, Shanks said.

Two of the company’s office lasers have been signed by Lance Armstrong, a Postal Service team member and four-time winner of the prestigious race.

Set at the proper wavelength, lowpower laser light will stimulate cells to function more efficiently, promoting healing and reducing pain, Shanks said. Clinical trials have demonstrated the device reduces pain by 60 percent in one treatment and will increase range of motion and muscle strength, he said.

The company, which anticipates sales of about $8 million this year, produces lasers at its own machine shop and handles its own research and development. It produces 85 percent of it own parts.

Erchonia, a Latin word for "healing light," was founded by Shanks and partner Kevin Tucek, a mechanical engineer, in 1996 in Lakewood, Colo. Tucek developed the idea of creating small portable lasers for healing purposes after observing a large laser machine from Switzerland in a doctor’s office. The bulky unit cost $30,000, but "we could see how well they worked on the body," Shanks said. The partners figured there was a market for smaller, less expensive lasers that provided similar benefits.

The company moved to Chandler in 1998 and to Mesa’s Falcon Field area two years later, where the company occupies four temporary buildings in the Mesa Commons Business Park.

Erchonia has 25 employees and may add several more in administration, sales and assembly when the new building is completed, said Mark Shanks, chief financial officer.

Patients may call (480) 633-3129 for a list of doctors in their area who use Erchonia laser therapy.

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