The ability to listen and learn from one another has always been vital in parliament, in business and in most aspects of daily life. But at this particular moment in time, as national and global events continue to reiterate, it is uncommonly crucial that we forge new channels of communication and reinforce existing ones. The following article from Medical Engineering Technologies is an attempt to do just that. We would welcome your thoughts on this or any other Parliamentary Review article.
Medical Engineering Technologies
1MEDICAL ENGINEERING TECHNOLOGIES |
BEST PRACTICE REPRESENTATIVE
Managing Director MarkTurner
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Medical Engineering Technologies (MET) is a laboratory
service which tests the safety and performance of
medical devices. There are many types of medical
device, such as catheters and tubes, dressings, drug delivery
systems, implants, and diagnostic systems. Across the world,
regulators have standards which these devices must meet. MET
provides independent data to confirm whether or not devices
are compliant. Managing Director Mark Turner offers a more
ample insight into the company’s journey – the ups and the
downs – as well as the company’s manner of operating.
The company was created in 1997. At the very beginning, I lived off savings and my
wife’s income for two years, and I drove a taxi in the evenings. Financially speaking,
this helped very little, but it did make me feel like I was contributing. To be honest,
I very nearly abandoned the company at the end of that period, but the investment
finally started to pay off. At that time, the company was what is known in the US
as a “manufacturers’ rep”. This, ultimately, is not what I left my comfortable and
steady job to do.
The initial idea was to distribute medical equipment, and, in this respect, we
thought that we had prepared the ground well. When we took the leap, everything
was ready to start this great new venture. Within a month, it was obvious that the
»Founded in 1997
»Located in Dover
»Services: Medical equipment
»No. of employees: 23
»MET serves clients on every
continent except Antarctica
THE PARLIAMENTARY REVIEW
Highlighting best practice
2| MEDICAL ENGINEERING TECHNOLOGIES
great new venture was not going to
work. There was simply not enough
money available to create a presence
in the market. Luckily, a new direction
was opened through an advertisement
from an American company looking
for a commission-only salesman. This
and several other companies were
added to the portfolio, allowing a
stable business to be formed. After
ten years of having exchanged one
boss for many bosses, we were
able to start developing our own
The teenage years
At this stage, we came to employ 20
people while successfully delivering
services in Africa, Asia, Europe and
the US. It took a while, because
external funding was not available.
Our eventual ability to get here was
because of our willingness to invest in
the company through retained profits.
The hardest part was at the
beginning, before a stable base was
formed. Turnover and income were
unpredictable, as was the workload.
Adding a third person to a two-person
company is a very big decision. Now we
only add 5 per cent to the workforce by
going from 20 to 21 people. Staffing
has been a crucial aspect of creating a
successful business. The wrong person
can do a lot of harm; the right person
can benefit everyone in the business.
Packaging testing was our first
laboratory service. Many medical
devices, not just implants – indeed,
even surgeons’ gloves – are delivered
sterile. This sterility must be proven
by challenging the products with
transport and through shelf-life
simulation followed by an analysis of
the packaging systems.
New services are added quite regularly
now. These tests are always related
to product safety or performance.
For example, a wound dressing is
subjected to performance tests,
including absorption, vapour transfer,
anti-microbial properties, adhesion
and sterility, among many others.
The safety tests can be carried out
by chemical extraction and detailed
analysis of the materials found.
The university days
We work in a regulated industry and
must comply with quality standards
and management systems ourselves.
Getting started on this was daunting,
as experienced quality management
professionals were way beyond our
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to our best
3MEDICAL ENGINEERING TECHNOLOGIES |
BEST PRACTICE REPRESENTATIVE
budget. We tackled this problem in
small steps. Initially, we found a cost-
effective consultancy and worked with
them to get ISO 9001 accreditation.
We then found a new graduate and
trained them in quality management
ourselves. Between us, we developed
a system and got accredited for
ISO 17025. This is the laboratory
management quality standard, and
achieving it is no easy feat. We now
get audits almost every month from the
largest pharmaceutical companies and
are working to their exactingstandards.
We now have multiple revenue streams
in terms of geography, range of tests
and medical or pharmaceutical clients.
The marketplace is set to grow due to
the inexorable increase in regulation.
This has led us to have plans to benefit
from this by increasing our floor space
and head count. It may well be that we
will now seek external investment to
allow us to secure enough market share
to ensure the future of the company.
Investment for retirement
MET is actually a few months older
than Google. We have not achieved
their status, but we have grown steadily
through investment. We always train
our staff and buy whatever equipment
is needed to drive the business
forward. Everyone in the company
feels valued and knows that their
contribution is important. We recently
had a company outing for staff and
their families to a theme park in
France. But investing in a table-tennis
table has led to our best team-building
activity. The tournaments have really
bonded the workforce together.
We currently have a large building
project to increase our floor space with
a mezzanine. Once that is complete,
we will have a music room where
piano and string-instrument lessons
will be available for staff.
Mature, stable and forward-
We are not planning on becoming
middle-aged anytime soon. Our
marketplace is becoming more
competitive and the larger players are
consolidating. In response, we are
investing heavily in our website and
writing technical articles for trade
magazines. However, we have found
that one of the best ways to reach new
customers is in the form of handwritten
letters. Their infrequency provides
them with a certain novelty that makes
people curious to read them. Our
current challenge is most definitely
competing against these larger
competitors, who seem to be at every
conference and advertising in alloutlets.
We have set ourselves some
demanding targets to grow the
business over the next few years.
Operating in such a technically
demanding space is challenging but
also rewarding, and we expect to be
around for much time to come.
We always train
our staff and
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