Urologist Stewart Sloan was tired of ruined shoes and pants after messy surgeries. Moreover, the contact with fluids elevated the risk to everyone working in the operating room. The standard for PPE at the time was effectively a glorified trash bag with zero traction and no real form-fitting elements.
Dr. Sloan went to work on better designs and materials for PPE. Ultimately, he succeeded in pairing the best materials with designs that offered excellent traction and protection against fluids. He needed a great manufacturer to deliver the highest levels of quality. The search was long and difficult but he ultimately landed on a relationship that benefits buyers and users.
Understanding the Supply Chain
Very few healthcare professionals or citizens were interested in hospital PPE supply chains before the Covid pandemic. Shortages during the pandemic highlighted weak points in the supply chain and they exposed a dependence on off-shore manufacturers for supplies.
One company that wasn’t impacted was Sloan Medical because from the beginning they built a supply chain within North America. Many PPE products are manufactured in Asia and are affected by elevated costs associated with shipping, import taxes, and other factors. The manufacturing itself is often very cheap, however. For this reason, Asian manufacturing markets tend to dominate the PPE field.
One major downside to manufacturing in offshore markets is the inability to control quality. While plenty of quality products are made, exacting quality control is difficult unless you work with a single factory that is dedicated to your products. Many factories manufacture the same products for several different brands, so priorities are elsewhere and resources are stretched thin.
Sloan Medical is Anchored in North America
Dr. Stuart Sloan engaged a team to research every manufacturing option. Quality was the highest priority and after intensive due diligence, it was decided that a North American manufacturing solution would best represent the products and serve the end customers.
A few key advantages included:
- Fast shipping times
- Excellent quality control
- Close relationships with manufacturers
- In-person facility visits
After deciding on Mexico as the best manufacturing location, it was time to find the right partner. This search would take some time, trials, and meetings with leadership at many companies. The exhaustive process would ultimately result in a very productive partnership.
Partnering with the Nearshore Company
Mexico has grown into a highly productive manufacturing hub for North America. Modern equipment and facilities combine perfectly with accessibility to markets in Canada, the United States, and Mexico. This led to a comprehensive search for a manufacturing partner in Mexico who understood the product and mission to deliver the highest quality PPE available.
The Nearshore Company demonstrated exceptional dedication to the process and their values were aligned with the Sloan Medical mission. The trial period was short and the two companies have been partners for nearly three decades.
CEO of the Nearshore Company, Armando Martinez says it best:
“Your values are tested during challenging times. Everyone wants to do the right things but what actually happens under stress varies. Our partnership has lasted because we share the same values and support each other through the ups and downs of manufacturing cycles.”
Another aspect of a successful relationship involves a willingness to constantly adapt and improve. The Nearshore Company leverages technology and automation to manage costs while maintaining exceptional quality control.
Armando Martinez says, “We invested in specialized machinery like our spreader-cutter that is programmable to laser-cut spec sections of plastic. It’s extremely efficient and those types of equipment and investments are critical to our modern manufacturing strategy.”
The relationship has been proven effective many times over. Together, Sloan Medical and the Nearshore Company managed demand spikes through the pandemic. “In 2020, when Covid arrived, we knew demand would significantly increase,” said Joe Reischl, Vice President of Sloan Medical. “So, we worked with Nearshore to increase our production 7x our normal manufacturing capacity in the span of two weeks.”
They continue to manufacture and sell the best PPE available because each company understands and believes in the purpose the products serve.
From Big Idea to Game-Changing Product
Many great businesses begin with a problem-solution equation. Stewart Sloan was tired of slippery shoe coverings, ruined clothing, and PPE that exposed him and his staff to fluids in the operating room. His big idea was simple: Design and manufacture PPE that actually performs and protects the user.
If Sloan Medical had used Asian manufacturers, the company would have seen major disruptions throughout the pandemic. Because of their dedicated Mexico manufacturing partnership, every delivery was made on time without any interruptions or loss of quality. “They are very transparent with us regarding any challenges,” said Reischl. “They’re always willing to work with us to reach a solution.”
Not many companies can say the same thing!