Saturday, January 24, 2009

Going Green

There has been a lot of talk about the green jobs, a "clean energy economy" and reducing one's carbon footprint. Recent college graduates are interested in working for green companies, and consumers have begun to demonstrate their willingness to consider the environmental impact of their purchasing decisions.

Being green is not new to ConMed Linvatec. The operations group has really lead the way, starting with a strong commitment to Kaizen that dates back to the 1990's. At that time, we were all big fans of the book Lean Thinking. As part of the operations group, I participated in a number of Kaizen events. I understand that Kaizen is an integral part of manufacturing operations at Conmed's New York facilities as well. Kaizen is a fundamentally green approach to manufacturing.

Lean Thinking highlights the Toyota Production System. Japanese car manufacturers like Honda and Toyota are some of the foremost practitioners of lean philosophy in the manufacturing world, but as the book explains, many of their manufacturing ideas were inspired by Henry Ford and american grocery stores- where "just-in-time" inventory was, and still is, an art form.

These ideas connected with a deep current in Japanese culture of respect for nature and a need after the second World War to be as resourceful as possible. You could say this philosophy is exemplified by "Waste not, want not." The TPS approach is to eliminate as much waste- wasted time, energy, materials and scrap- as possible from the manufacturing process. The idea is that in most manufacturing processes, there is much more waste than there is opportunity for increased efficiency. Unlike the high-dollar investments often required to increase efficiency, reducing waste is about observing and streamlining the manufacturing process carefully to eliminate waste and improve quality.

So over nearly two decades, through dozens upon dozens, perhaps hundreds of Kaizen events, the manufacturing of ConMed Linvatec products has become less wasteful, faster and more flexible, cleaner and greener.

In an excerpt from a recent article written by one of my esteemed colleagues at ConMed Linvatec, here are some other ways that ConMed Linvatec has been "Going Green" for many years...

  • Packaging. Almost all our boxes and shipping containers are made out of recycled material.
  • Trade-in programs for capital equipment. We accept back any and all prior generation capital equipment and offer credit toward the purchase of new equipment. The returned equipment is often taken apart and some parts are used in the service and repair of other products.
  • Made in the USA! Not only are most of our products manufactured in the USA but we also contract with many local suppliers. Many of our direct competitors are now subcontracting the manufacture of their products(s) outside the US; shipping from China (or elsewhere) increases the consumption of fuel and the "carbon footprint" of such products.
  • Autoclavable camera heads. Autoclaving is a widely accepted and environmentally friendly method of product sterilization. It is a much "greener" method of sterilization than other methods which rely on harsh chemicals that need to be specially handled and disposed of.

More and more business have begun to realize that being green is just plain smart. In the medical device industry, ConMed Linvatec is a green leader.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Knee Arthroscopy

It seems pretty intuitive, but patients who undergo knee arthroscopy are quick to recover and return to their normal activities. The Journal of Arthroscopy published the first study that measures patient recovery time last year. This was done because the study's authors note that "return to activity has been poorly quantitated."

A brief synopsis on the AAOS website highlights the results and leads to a layman's explanation of the knee joint, including common problems that may warrant arthroscopy.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Semper Fi

The other day I interviewed a military veteran. He told me that he uses the values he learned in the military in every day life: leadership, loyalty, duty, personal courage and selfless service.

In particular, I think loyalty can unfortunately be undervalued. Every man/one for himself, right?

I see a lot of talented people who jump from job to job to job, sometimes by misfortune, sometimes by misjudgment. I don't think any of us can completely escape misfortune in our lives; times like these make it all the more apparent. At this point, we probably all know good, hardworking people who have been laid off.

What you can guard against is misjudgment.

One of the most common, career-wrecking misjudgments I see is when people make their career choice strictly based on money, strictly on "comp plans". As Lou Adler, my recruiting hero says, "money does not drive day-to-day satisfaction on the job". I am paraphrasing here, but I believe he is right.

When people focus strictly on money in making a career move, they often blind themselves to other equally important matters (products, company culture, stability) and therefore set themselves up for disappointment. Because when the comp plan doesn't pan out exactly the way they thought it would, then what are they left with? Anger, resentment and a job they probably don't like all that much. Like they say, if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

They also get a resume that gets choppier and choppier over the years, which hurts them in the end. It is not uncommon for such people to peak early in their careers and have a lot of excuses why this job or that job did not work out- it is never their fault.

I realize there are companies and recruiters out there who overpromise and underdeliver, inflate and maybe even lie sometimes about income potential. Some of this is inherently fuzzy business because the final numbers depend a lot on the efforts of the individual rep. All the same, I don't think I am sort of recruiter, or that ConMed is the sort of company, to exaggerate the potential or cover-up the challenges.

This became clear to me the other day when I heard back from a candidate had just been on an interview in on of ConMed's other divisions. He told me he appreciated the fact that both the opportunities and challenges had been made clear to him- that no one was trying to paint a too rosy picture. I thought to myself, "Well, that's just the way we do it at Linvatec." I gotta say, I am kinda proud of that.

In the end, I think people who are loyal often save themselves a lot of heartache and turmoil. They are "stickier". They usually don't make a move unless it is a well-considered. In the end, their decisions benefit both themselves and the companies they work for.

I call that a win-win.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Opportunities with ConMed Electrosurgery

I have recently started recruiting for ConMed Electrosurgery. There are about 300 capital and disposable products in this line. The key product in this line is the System 5000, an electrosurgical generator. It is used to stop bleeding during a variety of different procedures.

The reps in this division tell me 1) they are proud to represent the best product of its kind on the market and 2) they love the fact that they are in so many different types of surgery: general, ortho, neuro and more.

Current Territory Manager openings include:
Columbus, OH
Cleveland, OH
Indianapolis, IN

If you are a Hoosier or a Buckeye with great capital sales experience, please send your resume my way for immediate consideration. Recommendations and networking encouraged!

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

White Space

This seems to be the time of year when a lot of people update their resumes, perhaps this year in particular.

Do not underestimate the value of white space in making your resume more readable.

Sometimes people seem to want to cram everything they have every done in their entire life onto their resume, often in big thick blocks of text that are nearly impenetrable. When you look at dozens of resumes each day like I do, trying to pluck out what is important from what is not important on such a resume is rather tedious.

That is where white space helps. It gives breathing room and legibility to your resume. It allows the reader to read, instead of making them strain through your thorny thicket of words. It may force you to edit, to prune out the unnecessary information to keep your resume a reasonable length. For reasons like these, white space is an essential element in highlighting your accomplishments.

Chose the accomplishments that you are most proud of, ones that you can substantiate, the ones that have made a difference. Set them apart with a little space all around. Use a few bullets. It gives your accomplishments the chance to be been seen and understood. And it is a lot easier on my eyeballs.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Cold Calling, Girl Scout-Style

It's that time of year again, when the girl scouts come calling to ruin your New Year's resolutions with boxes of cookies. Actually, the order form says that if eaten in moderation, the cookies can be part of a healthy diet. That is, if you can resist the temptation of downing half-a-box of Samoas in one sitting.

That's it pretty tough to resist, even for the strong willed.

I got my daughter off to a good start by ordering 14 boxes of cookies, including half-a-dozen boxes of Samoas. (Well, you know, they freeze well.) (Not that any of these cookies will actually be around long enough to make it in to our freezer.)

If you don't know what Samoas are, they are these fiendishly tasty confections, covered with caramel, chocolate and coconut. It's like a triple threat, highly addictive. If you haven't tried one yet, I would advise you to consider the decision carefully, since one cookie will probably alter your eating habits for the rest of your life.

Whenever there is anything to sell, my daughter is more than determined to meet and exceed her quota. Her troop wants every girl to sell 25 boxes or more. In this case, she decided that her personal goal was to sell 233 boxes of cookies.

"Whoa," I said. I want to support Girl Scouts as much as the next parent, but I know selling cookies, lots of cookies, means I have to be right behind her at every step along the way. "How about you try for 100 boxes? Then if you meet that goal, we can reassess and see if you want to increase it?" Fortunately, she agreed. The Girl Scouts suggest that this is a good exercise in goal setting, and I think an important part of it is learning to set a goal that is challenging but not unattainable.

Before we went out, she wanted to practice. She knocked on my bedroom door. When I opened it, she said, "Hello, would you like to buy some Girl Scout cookies?" She also made her own visual aide- a poster with cut-outs of the different cookies pasted on it. Once she had rehearsed some more and was fully prepared, we set out down the street.

I hung back a little at each door, letting her have a chance to run the show. She knew her stuff: how to fill out the order form, when the cookies would arrive. She was determined to make a sale at every door.

When one lady said, "I'm on a diet. I am really trying not to buy cookies," my daughter responded, "We have sugar free cookies." She ended up selling that household 2 boxes of cookies. As we walked away from that house, my daughter said, "I did not want to loose another customer!"

A lot of people did order, because my daughter was the first Girl Scout to come around this year. Some people were out, and there were a few who declined. I could tell it took a lot of gumption (though my daughter has plenty) for her to knock on each door.

She did get a little discouraged when she was turned down, but I counseled her if she stays positive and keeps her activity level up, that she will be able to meet her goal. I saw a few opportunities to tweak her presentation a little to increase the average sale. (Can you tell I interview a lot of sales people or what?)

She sold 17 boxes yesterday. A good start. I did not expect that she would meet her goal in one afternoon, but in time I am sure she will.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Credit Crunch Hitting Hospitals

A recent story on NPR explained the impact that the problems in the credit market have had on hospitals. The lack of credit available for new construction projects could foreseeably have an effect on other types of capital expenditures, such as equipment.