Case Studies

NELCO

Radiation Shielding Solutions for a Safer Planet

For more than 80 years, NELCO has excelled in providing innovative solutions to enable greater protection from radiation technology for a growing and diversifying client base in the medical, industrial and construction industries. NELCO’s capabilities include: designing, manufacturing, building, installing and/or consulting to satisfy a wide range of requirements in the medical radiation therapy, medical diagnostic imaging, industrial radiation shielding, medical design-build and anti-corrosive lining fields.

Originally founded in 1932 by Karl Weiss Sr., NELCO has grown to become a global leader in the industry with offerings that meet and exceed ever-changing demands. Whether shielding designs and materials are utilized for X-rays, CT scans or radiation treatment for cancer, radiation exposure must be reduced to protect personnel and patients.

Rick LeBlanc, president and CEO of NELCO, leads experienced and growing teams of specialized experts worldwide. “Our mission is to consistently earn and maintain our worldwide leadership position in radiation shielding by meeting every specific client need with the highest quality, most cost-effective specialty products and services, while meeting critical timeline requirements,” he states.

The company’s expanding international presence is bolstered with strategically located manufacturing and project management facilities and sales offices around the globe. NELCO’s locations include the U.S., Europe, the Middle East and Asia to facilitate optimal service and product quality and delivery.

Diverse Services

While the majority of business involves medical radiation protection, NELCO specialists also lead the way with products and services for industrial shielding applications and anti-corrosive protection.

“Primarily,” LeBlanc explains, “We manufacture and install shielding for X-ray, MRI, CT and other medical facility equipment, and we design full radiation therapy systems for hospitals and freestanding cancer centers. On the industrial side, we protect airports, ports and boarders with radiation security systems, we provide shielded storage for research and pharmaceutical clients, and we customize industrial and non-destructive testing enclosures.”

Expert NELCO teams, in a variety of disciplines, are able to offer clients a broad range of services, including consultation, design and construction, architectural, physics, engineering, as well as maintenance and repair to meet new and developing needs.

“Our shielded door service program is proving to be invaluable for countless facilities, adding years of functionality with simple and convenient maintenance,” says LeBlanc. “It stands to reason with our unequaled expertise in door systems. NELCO has installed more shielded therapy doors than all of our competitors combined.”

As technology advances, so does NELCO. The company continues to meet the requirements of the constantly changing marketplace. “When new technology is available, there are clinical needs and financial justifications so the company stays close to emerging technologies,” LeBlanc explains. “We are there when those needs come about in the marketplace.”

NELCO provides products and services for manufacturers, as well as service providers. The business offers every commercially available shielding solution in the world. Working closely with clients, the team treats each site uniquely to understand equipment requirements and specific conditions of the site. Taking into account materials, space and support, NELCO determines the best solution for each site from both a quality and cost perspective.

A Growing Portfolio

With a strong, value-driven approach, the NELCO team has been involved in a number of unique projects in recent years. According to LeBlanc, one of the more memorable has been the work at Elmhurst.

“Accuray and US Radiosurgery needed to renovate an existing linear accelerator vault to accommodate a CyberKnife system, but they didn’t have the luxury of time to accommodate an eight-week schedule,” he explains. “NELCO was asked to perform a seemingly impossible task: reduce the timetable drastically to just 21 calendar days. Our team of architects, engineers and construction managers accepted the challenge with a true teamwork approach to accomplish this type of project faster than anyone.”

Currently, NELCO has 125 active projects around the world. Recently, one team completed work at a site in Worcester, England, where the crew installed six modular bunkers for radiation therapy. Another recent project, in Toronto, came to fruition after two years of research and development.

“In one hospital room, both MRI deliveries and radiation therapy are being conducted,” LeBlanc elaborates. “An industrial line that we work with utilizes the same technology. One very visible project in New York City is the first of its kind in the world. The technology is being introduced in a series of buildings. Every commercial vehicle that comes through will be scanned. We worked closely with Rapiscan to design, manufacture and install the shielding systems.”

As much as the people at NELCO appreciate the demands of each individual project, LeBlanc says there is one thing the team values even more. “The greatest rewards are the long-term client relationships that result from our hard work and innovative solutions,” he elaborates. “We’ve worked with a number of the top 10 cancer centers for decades.”

One such example is an extraordinary, 30-year relationship that NELCO has successfully maintained with M.D. Anderson Cancer Center. “Over the years we’ve partnered to provide everything from Neutron and HDR shielded door systems to high-density shielding for linear accelerator vaults and the Proton Therapy Center,” LeBlanc explains. “It is a true honor to have received our top-vendor award from the M.D. Anderson department of medical physics and to live up to our preferred vendor status every day.”

The nature of NELCO’s work requires precision and great care. For that reason, very little work is subbed out. “We work as a design-build business where we are performing an entire project,” LeBlanc states. “We design and manufacture the shielding, and then we work with local subcontractors to build these systems in. It is important for us to collaborate with people who are familiar with the facilities and the nature of the work. Instead of treating these relationships as a transaction, we form partnerships.”

Evolving and Expanding

While the economic downturn influenced the market, LeBlanc notes that the changing health care system has had a far greater impact. “The medical marketplace is changing,” he explains. “First we had the recession, then the uncertainty in Washington in this industry. We have witnessed contraction, consolidation and delayed decisions. NELCO needed to demonstrate great flexibility and adaptability to navigate the marketplace and ultimately prevail.”

According to LeBlanc, strategic moves have enabled NELCO to be stronger now than ever. “Our international business rose from 15 to 30 percent,” he elaborates. “We acquired a company in New York that was a great fit with really great people. This shift in strategy has allowed us to maintain and accelerate our competitive edge. We have been working internationally since the 1980s, but we knew we had to step it up to increase our global footprint. Now we have a facility in the United Kingdom and a growing presence in the Latin American market. We have increased our sales and marketing efforts to further enhance our international business.”

Despite these recent challenges, LeBlanc says that one consistent factor has made the success of the business possible: personnel. “The people who work for our company are a great source of pride for us,” he explains. “We have the best team in the industry. Our staff is dedicated, hard working and loyal. They take their jobs seriously, but we also have a work-hard, play-hard attitude.” The NELCO team takes customer satisfaction very seriously, and strives to exceed expectations on every project.

With a strong staff and growing capabilities, NELCO has a bright future. “I’m very optimistic,” LeBlanc says. “Domestically, the markets are opening up. The economy has strengthened and we are well-positioned here and abroad.” Whether at home in the United States or across the pond, NELCO maintains a commitment to quality and service, unparalleled in the medical and industrial construction industry today.

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