Kerma gets good support

Published 9:41 pm Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Gov. Terry McAuliffe likes to be known as the pro-jobs, pro-business governor, and days like Tuesday in Hampton Roads don’t hurt that persona.

The governor got to announce a $25.7-million investment by Printpack that will bring 50 new jobs to Newport News. But on the way, he stopped in Suffolk at Kerma Medical Products.

Kerma Medical Products is a small-business success story that has its roots in a bid for the business of the federal government. Earl Reubel learned the federal government was seeking a specific type of burn dressing pad but was having trouble sourcing it.

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So he decided to start making it himself.

The company now offers tens of thousands of different products, from ice packs and thermometers to fetal monitor belts and those baby bonnets that are in every newborn picture on your Facebook feed.

Earl Reubel’s son, Joe, now is president of the company. He moved it from Portsmouth to Suffolk in 2011, 20 years after it started, to expand its operations.

During his visit, the governor made no small thing of getting to know the employees who work at Kerma. He took time to chat with them and learn about what they do and ask how he could help.

As it turns out, Kerma does have ambitions to try to capture more of an international market, now that it is one of the leading suppliers of medical supplies in the United States.

And McAuliffe just happens to have returned from a marketing visit to Cuba and was able to connect the company to the Virginia Leaders in Export Trade program.

Kerma also is looking to expand its product offerings and geographic scope, perhaps by acquisition of other companies. So a little moral support from people like McAuliffe will go a long way toward achieving that goal.