The medical device industry is full of opportunities, and Merit Medical is capitalizing on those by continuing to cultivate the entrepreneurial mindset it was founded upon. For almost 30 years, Merit Medical has developed, manufactured and distributed proprietary, single-use medical devices used in interventional and diagnostic procedures. By thinking like serial entrepreneurs, we have found ways to be successful partners with doctors, hospitals and other medical device manufacturers while improving patient outcomes.
Merit Medical, with myself as the company founder, and a team of leaders, including my son Justin, have nurtured the underlying entrepreneurial spirit to keep our business focus and fulfill the corporate mission of advancing the medical industries we touch, which in turn advances healthcare.
As business professionals, we are always trying to figure out how to maximize opportunities. We have paid attention to and evaluated industry issues such as the world’s aging population, emerging markets, increased regulation and healthcare consolidation. But some of the major reasons Merit has been successful are because we push ourselves to create products in response to feedback from healthcare professionals, provide a breadth of products, and have found an effective formula to sell our products. To achieve all of this, we subscribe to the concept of being perpetual medical pioneers, while thinking like entrepreneurs.
Strive for innovation
Merit Medical was founded with a single product, the polycarbonate coronary syringe, which was designed to replace the glass and polypropylene models of the day. Our first product taught us that we could always compete and grow if we came up with good ideas. In other words, there is always room for innovation. We have had long-term success because we seriously believe in our mission and are in constant entrepreneurial mode to create cutting-edge products. We have more than 3,500 products, including the ConcierGE Guiding Catheter, Medallion Syringes and the Blue Diamond Inflation Device. And, between Merit and myself, we have approximately 600 patents.
One of the company’s areas of strength is our OEM division. Merit Medical OEM is a preferred supplier for some of the largest and most well-known medical device manufacturers around the world. The company sells finished devices and components to manufacturers for use in their finished devices and kits. Our OEM customers have the benefit of using our products in Merit’s direct sales to hospitals and doctors. We have already worked through international regulatory hurdles, so our engineers can customize products and devices to meet customer specifications. We hear time and time again that one of the biggest reasons our OEM customers enjoy partnering with Merit Medical is our ability and willingness to customize products and components. We can customize catheters, syringes, inflation devices and most of our other products. We are flexible for our customers.
In addition to innovating devices, Merit Medical devises new ways to move healthcare forward by offering training programs for clinicians who want to advance their fields. Our ThinkRadial education program trains clinicians to transition from using the femoral artery for interventional procedures to using the radial artery. The transradial approach has been proven to reduce costs and patient downtimes. In Europe, we offer Prostate Artery Embolization workshops. We also have plans to launch additional programs like these for other medical procedures in the future.
An entrepreneur must invest and commit
Merit strives to ensure quality by employing vertical integration when possible. Our Utah campus has a wafer fabrication facility where we manufacture the pressure sensors found in some of our devices. We have expansive molding capabilities, and wire- and tube-coating capabilities. This controls the quality of our final products and components and allows us a greater ability to be flexible in customizing products for our OEM customers.
Another great example of Merit’s entrepreneurial drive is a focus on manufacturing processes and operations. We’ve made a significant investment to automate many of our processes which increases our efficiency and lets us service customers around the world. For example, at our South Jordan, Utah, manufacturing headquarters, we recently launched a state-of-the-art automated inventory system to increase productivity.
We also ensure our products are of the highest quality in the field by continuously gathering feedback. We collect field data and have a listen-first approach for product development, working with physicians around the world to improve our finished devices.
It’s a big world out there
Our entrepreneurial spirit is also demonstrated by successful international expansion. Merit has been in Japan for more than 25 years and has recently grown about 25% in Europe. In 2010, Merit focused on markets from Russia to Eastern Europe, central Asia and Turkey, the Middle East and Africa. We have an international network of manufacturing, distribution, sales and customer service operations, with knowledge of the healthcare industry and regulatory processes worldwide, which benefits our OEM customers around the world.
The next chapter
I have described Merit before as being just in our teenage years, just starting to fill out. We are curious and hungry and don’t plan on letting ourselves get lazy. If we are going to grow Merit to a $3 billion company in my lifetime, then it is imperative that the company’s motto, “Understand. Innovate. Deliver,” continues to be driven home by our present and future Merit entrepreneurs.