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Auburn welcomes Karl Storz to town with open arms and salutes

By Rod Lee

Evidence that Karl Storz North America’s logistics operation had arrived on Millbury Street in Auburn was everywhere the afternoon of June 25th even before John O’Keefe Jr. took to the dais and put his hands together as a prompt for thunderous clapping from those who turned out for the grand opening of the facility.

“Welcome to the new Karl Storz North America logistics center! What do you think?” Mr. O’Keefe, who is director of supply chain operations for the company, a worldwide leader for more than seventy years in manufacturing endoscope solutions for human and veterinary medicine and for industrial applications, asked. The ensuing burst of applause gave him the answer he was expecting.

As Mr. O’Keefe, who served as master of ceremonies for the event, pointed out, “this place changed so fast! I was smiling ear to ear every day! We didn’t start the project until August. We had a very tight timetable to pull this off.”

In thanking “all of the trades” that played such an essential part in transforming space at 28 Millbury St. into what KSNA management was looking for in moving its logistics center from Southbridge to Auburn, Mr. O’Keefe said “all of you were as invested in making this happen as KSNA!” The thirty-six miles of data cable run in the building, “if lined up, would stretch right to Logan Airport!” Mr. O’Keefe said, to laughter and cheers.

The prevailing sentiment prior to and during remarks offered by a number of speakers including KSNA President and COO Charles H. “Charlie” Wilhelm was that Auburn is a perfect fit.

“We’re excited,” Mr. Wilhelm told a reporter while awaiting the delayed arrival of 2nd Worcester District Sen. Michael Moore of Millbury so that the program could start. “No disrespect to Southbridge but this location works so much better for us.”

Jeff Lersch who is VP of enterprise sales and service in the California headquarters of KSNA, agreed as he moved about the gathering. “We’ve created a sandbox for our customers to come here from all over the country and see our jobs and products,” Mr. Lersch said.

Giant “STORZ” lettering high on the outside of the building was replicated in white on a purple curtain in the large room in which the ceremony was held. Tours of the beautifully reappointed main floor, conducted by John Sullivan, who has been with KSNA for about nine years, led a participant walking behind Mr. Sullivan to exclaim “this was cobwebs and spider webs! So much nicer!”

A four-piece band, cocktail tables covered in blue linen, a flower-bedecked stage, monitors providing visuals of the Karl Storz story and white folding chairs set up for the occasion contributed to a festive atmosphere.

“What an incredible impact this will make on the town of Auburn,” Auburn Town Manager Julie Jacobson told the crowd. In pointing out the attractiveness of the town as a place to conduct commercial, industrial and retailing enterprise, as she often does as a cheerleader for the community, Ms. Jacobson said “Auburn has a lot to offer. Ours doors are always open!”

Several times in his remarks Rep. Frost, who serves the 7th Worcester District, mentioned that “Auburn is my hometown. I know how important your jobs are to Auburn and to Charlton,” for all of the employment opportunities that come with Karl Storz’s presence in those towns.

In adding that he had attended a twenty-fifth anniversary celebration for KSNA’s Charlton facility a while back, Mr. Frost said he is aware from personal experience that “Karl Storz knows how to throw a party!”

Rep. Frost and Sen. Moore both presented citations from the State Legislature in commending Karl Storz in the company’s choice of Auburn.

“I first heard about Karl Storz only five, six years ago,” Sen. Moore said. “We are glad to have you in Auburn. This is a great community.”

Mr. Wilhelm, who has been with KSNA for twenty-seven years, and who was elevated to his current position as head of the company in March of 2005, said “I want to acknowledge the growth and success we have enjoyed as an organization. That doesn’t happen without product design, manufacturing and sales. It takes teamwork and execution.”

Mr. Wilhelm said KSNA’s workforce from the top down has “stayed humble” throughout this period.

“We can feel the pride today,” Mr. Wilhelm said.

Contact Rod Lee at [email protected] or 774-232-2999.