MedTech Group Inc.'s George Blank won't disclose his company's sales or profit. But the president and chief executive officer of the South Plainfield, N.J., business will tell you MedTech is outpacing the market, which has been growing at 8 percent or better the past five years, and he will expound on what it takes to be successful in medical device manufacturing.
``Our strength is that we are very experienced in the health-care field and experts in the business of our customers,'' Blank said in a June 12 interview at Medical Design & Manufacturing East in New York. ``We understand their challenges and requirements because all of our business is in health care. We use all of our plastics technology tools - building, injection molding, two-shot molding, along with product design, assembly technology, packaging and sterilization - to support our business. We have a very good technology base in what we do.''
Blank, who founded MedTech 30 years ago, described the business of medical device manufacturing as a demanding environment that is getting tougher.
``The regulations covering the manufacturing of medical products have increased significantly over the last five years,'' he said. ``A lot more testing and development has to go into each step of the process to make sure the efficacy of the product is ensured. That has made it more challenging and the capabilities needed to succeed are significantly more extensive in terms of people, processes, software and technology.''
Companies today need much better quality systems and much more sophisticated software to control documentation, Blank said. He emphasized that now firms must train their workers in skills such as process capability, failure mode and effects analysis, process validation and statistical analysis. A great deal of change overlays the traditional manufacturing his company did 15 years ago, he said.
Original equipment manufacturers are extremely demanding, he said. An OEM only wants to work with suppliers that have the skills to support its business, making it more important than ever that manufacturers possess a broad range of skills, technologies and capabilities.
``Those who have the experience, the talent and the skills should be able to continue growing,'' Blank said. ``It is not sales and marketing that creates the growth. It is having the capacities to meet the OEM needs.''
As a private firm, MedTech has the advantage of operating for the long-term, he said. The company doesn't have to operate quarter-to-quarter and it doesn't have the costs associated with being a public business. Yet, at the same time, Blank said he runs MedTech like a public company, with an outside board of directors and outside auditors.
``That discipline and attention to proven business practices have helped us develop a reputation of being ethical,'' he said.
Blank also makes sure his firm always has enough capacity to take advantage of opportunities that may come along.
``We always create more capacity than we need,'' he said. ``You have to have capacity when your customers need it. We try to have enough capacity so, when we have an opportunity, we can serve the customer.''
Although MedTech has a plant in Vega Baja, Puerto Rico, and another in Barreal de Heredia, Costa Rica, Blank said eliminating U.S. manufacturing is not MedTech's aim. The company's Puerto Rican plant serves Puerto Rico and the Caribbean, and its Costa Rican site is for Costa Rica and low-cost platforms close to the U.S. market.
``Our philosophy is to provide a U.S. base for the products [that] belong here, as well as offshore platforms for customers that require that support,'' he said.
``The things moving out are not detrimental to our U.S. operations, and we have no strategy to get away from that approach. We just are required to be in other parts of the world to serve our customers.''
MedTech's operations in South Plainfield, and West Haven, Conn., manufacture for the domestic market and the company does a lot of development work at those locations, according to Blank. MedTech employs 450, about half of them in the United States.
Blank said MedTech focuses on continuous improvement and having uniform programs in place at all its plants.
``We have uniform training, uniform quality platforms and uniform quality systems in place,'' Blank said. ``If we move something to a low-cost plant like Costa Rica, that transfer is seamless because the equipment, the training, the quality and the testing equipment is the same.''
But he is never satisfied with how far the company has come, and he is always looking to where it still needs to go.
``We have a lean focus on an ongoing basis and continue to maximize our efficiency,'' Blank said.
After we start a process, we approach it from a Six Sigma lean standpoint. We concentrate on continually improving ourself. And we listen to our customers.''