By: David Power
Navigating the rapidly changing medical market today requires constant information, rapid analysis and quick reactions. Customers, competitors and suppliers are experiencing major and dramatic change and pressure. Companies are being bought, sold, merged, split apart and entering bankruptcy at an increasing and alarming rate. The landscape we have grown so comfortable with is shifting beneath our feet, as if an earthquake is shaking the land.
Recently, we have seen several of our competitors degenerate and become less of a competitive threat. To understand their failure teaches us how not to fail. I am a firm believer that there is no substitute for intimate knowledge of your products, capabilities and processes; that having your finger on the pulse of your business is vital to the success of the business.
A strong competitor of over 40 years was recently sold, and the one individual there that knew the business inside and out took their leave and retired. As a result, the company is now only a shadow of what it once was. We are being contacted by frustrated customers that can no longer receive the quality and service they had become used to over the many years.
Another of our competitors has been quality and service-challenged for a long time. We had determined long ago that this competitor’s business and customers were secure to them, as any customer that expected to receive a quality product on time stopped buying from them years ago. Customers that remained were comfortable with their poor performance. We were surprised when a number of those customers contacted us with desperate needs, as the poor historical performance took a turn further downward and customers could not stand the pain of even more reduced quality and service.
Another area of rapid change is the increasing requirements and needs of customers. There was a time long ago when product designs were done on cocktail napkins and assurance of quality was a handshake and trust. Those times are long gone. Customer audits have been the norm for many years now, but we have seen over just the last few years those audits, verifications, validations and scrutiny have taken a significant turn into the more detailed. Quality and Regulatory contracts that used to be 10 pages are now 50. Quality audits have expanded into environmental, safety, worker-focused and safety and community concerns related. Every detail of the manufacturing process must be verified as robust under the closest of scrutiny.
Additional challenges involve dramatic changes in the customer base. Several customers have been bought by larger organizations, merged or closed their doors. Management staffs at client organizations have been reorganized and realigned. Old friends have moved on; therefore, new relationships and new understandings must be formed. Curiously, some customers are demanding that we increase our performance and make our product offering more robust, while others are pressed to reduce cost to maintain the viability of their business. Having programs at EMM for both of these needs can be a bit of a challenge.
One more need now being expanded is product development. New equipment, new medical procedures, new robotics and new thinking demand strong product development and an engineering and regulatory team. Having the ability to work through and understand every performance and regulatory need of a product is key to successfully bringing such product to market.
Many of my business friends here in China lament and complain vigorously about these new challenges in a changing world. How to respond and accommodate conflicting challenges in rigidly structured companies is a huge problem. No one likes change and it is human nature to resist and deny same much to our detriment. To flourish, we must embrace change, alter our paradigms and thinking, and create new methods of operating.
Ultimately, I have viewed these new challenges as a positive development. Many of my competitors struggle with solutions, but as Exact Medical embraces the change, this then sets us apart from those competitors.
Exact Medical has, and continues to make, the investments to raise the bar of our performance. Adding engineering and regulatory expertise is a must. Augmenting manufacturing processes is a continuous activity. Strengthening our quality focus never ends. In fact, any activity that increases our capabilities and sets us apart from our competitors is viewed positively by Exact Medical.
Now all of this sounds really great, but then how to pay for it? Customers want higher performance sure, but at a lower cost. So how to deal with another, and to some degree, conflicting challenge. Well we have some ideas here too. One critical factor is material developments. R&D into this area is robust in today’s environment. Seeking out and implementing effective materials and source reductions can be a powerful tool to cost savings ends. One consideration that always must be part of the thinking is appropriate product performance. If a particular product needs the capabilities of a Yugo, don’t design a Mercedes to do the job. Another effective path is asset utilization and economy of scale realizations.
So, in the end we ask: “Is The Juice Worth The Squeeze?” Are the constant investments we make into Exact Medical and the trauma and turmoil of constant change worth the results we achieve? The answer is absolutely. The results we see in the success of our efforts, the customers that have seen fit to trust us with their product, and the products we are adding to our offering all confirm to us that:
The Juice is Definitely Worth the Squeeze.
Biography of David Power
David Power is the founder and principal owner of Exact Medical Manufacturing, Inc. David holds a Bachelors’ Degree in Theoretical Physics and Mathematics from Cornell University and has almost 50 years of experience in the medical industry and 40 years’ experience in doing business in China.
Exact Medical started as a one-man company, David working out of his living room many years ago. Today, Exact owns and operates a world-class manufacturing facility in Changzhou, China with 350 associates employed, a sales, management and engineering team located near Buffalo New York, a sales office and distribution warehouse in The Netherlands and a distribution warehouse in Pharr, Texas.
“We are very proud of where we have been and excited and confident in where we are going.”