Medical supplier LeeSar plans major Fort Myers expansion

Medical supplier LeeSar plans major Fort Myers expansion

LeeSar CEO Bob Simpson talks about his company’s plan to expand in Lee County. Amanda Inscore/


LeeSar space before expansion in 2017Fort Myers-based medical supplies company LeeSar will start work this fall on a $20 million expansion of its central distribution center off Winkler Avenue, a project born of booming demand that will lead to about 50 new full-time jobs.

The not-for-profit company, founded in 1998 by Lee Memorial Health System and Sarasota Memorial Health Care System, provides medical supplies, pharmaceuticals and pre-mixed drugs to its four owner-partners and their 22 hospitals.

Some, including all of Lee Memorial Health System’s health centers, also receive meals prepared in the facility’s kitchens.

And business has been booming, said CEO Bob Simpson.

“Every time we turn around, the phone’s ringing,” Simpson said. “And now we’re getting calls from other (hospital) systems to see if they can join us.”

The 450-employee LeeSar has four owner-partners: Lee Memorial, Sarasota Memorial, the Central Florida Health Alliance in Leesburg, and Huntsville Hospital in Huntsville, Alabama and its affiliates. Simpson said the company is in talks with another undisclosed healthcare organization to join.

It also has a 10-year contract with Lee County to provide emergency medical supplies to Lee County Emergency Medical Services.

Healthcare providers and manufacturers tour LeeSar
By any measure, the company’s growth has been impressive.

LeeSar moved to the 205,000-square-foot site at 2727 Winkler Ave. only four years ago from a 60,000-square-foot facility in Lehigh Acres. This soon-to-start project, more than a year in the making, will add another 85,000 square feet to building.

“The population rises, and we see an increase in our volume,” said Paul McWhinnie, LeeSar’s executive director of operations. “But also the breadth of our product line has increased.”

Work is expected to start in October, McWhinnie said.

The expansion will primarily affect LeeSar’s main sorting warehouse; its sterile processing department, which provides kits of devices used by surgeons; its drug sorting, mixing and packaging division, which puts together hospital and a growing number of EMS medical kits, and pre-mixed injectible drugs; its food preparation services; and its medical device repair center.

It breaks down like this:

The distribution center will grow from 69,000 square feet to about 107,000 square feet.
Pharmacy services will expand from 3,500 square feet to 22,500 square feet.
Culinary services will go from 40,000 square feet to 57,500 square feet.
Equipment sterilization and processing will go from 40,000 square feet to 46,000 square feet.
The instruments repair shop will grow from 2,500 square feet to 5,500 square feet.
Each of the departments is likely to grow the number of employees. Average pay: $15-$20 an hour, Simpson said.


LeeSar medical replenishment system

Lee Memorial Health System will spend about $6 million over the next several years help fund the cost of the expansion, said health system spokeswoman Mary Briggs.

Healthcare providers and manufacturers tour LeeSar
“LeeSar provides an incredible amount of value to Lee Memorial Health System by allowing us to reduce inventory and operating costs, while realizing increased efficiencies and convenience, said health system President and CEO Jim Nathan in an email. “Our collaboration with LeeSar has helped us keep supply costs flat for the past seven years.”

Naples-based DeAngelis Diamond will oversee construction.

Connect with this reporter: @FrankGluck (Twitter)

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