In the Q&A below, Jeff Vail, Executive Vice President of Strategy & Business Development at Spartan Medical Inc., discusses the various barriers and benefits, as well as the anticipated effect of the company’s strategic reorganization.
1. Why is the reorganization necessary, and what is the risk of not reorganizing?
Our business environment—and the medical industry as a whole—is continually changing. In some situations, it’s possible to gradually and continually evolve an organization, but that process creates its own problems and results in ongoing uncertainties. For Spartan, especially with the dramatic changes as we exit the COVID-19 pandemic and transition to an endemic environment, we decided it was essential to evolve by staying ahead of customer and market needs. Our reorganization puts us in a better position not only to adapt structure to our current environment, but to position ourselves to take on the challenges and opportunities we see coming in the next several years. Our belief is that if we can do the complex, we can do the simple – but we must have the right people in the right places to manage the labyrinth of new challenges and opportunities.
2. What is the main goal of the reorganization?
To put ourselves in the best possible position to continue our growth and expand into complementary markets. COVID-19 forced us to broaden the products and services we offer, which has forced us to re-evaluate how we provide value in the medical space. As a result, we’re looking at ways to re-imagine how we provide services in our core business of spinal and orthopedic sales as well—we’re investing in up-and-coming companies so we can provide a better end-product to our customers, and we’re finding ways to expand the value proposition we provide to surgeons overall. That means we’ve needed to shift the focus of some staff, and bring on some new personnel, to make sure our structure aligns with this vision.
“Our reorganization puts us in a better position not only to adapt structure to our current environment, but to position ourselves to take on the challenges and opportunities we see coming in the next several years.”
3. What changes are involved in the reorganization?
On the surface, we have created new positions to make sure that we have a full-time staff managing our medical services and turnkey medical solutions division. When we moved into these markets to adapt to COVID-19, we took people who had been idled by the pause in elective surgeries and effectively re-purposed them. Fortunately, the knowledge, skills, and experience of our staff made this a very successful transition, but now we have to make some of these shifts permanent while also ensuring we have a full staff continuing growth in our medical device sales division.
4. How does the reorganization reflect Spartan’s vision for the future of the company?
That’s the hidden benefit—and motivation—behind our reorganization. We had to reorganize to respond to the changes COVID-19 brought and how we adapted as a company, but it’s also been the impetus to make sure our staffing is aligned with our future vision for the company. Reorganizations—real realignments, not window dressing—are difficult and time-consuming. When you have to reorganize regardless, it would be a wasted opportunity not to also incorporate long-term changes that might otherwise be difficult to justify on their own. For Spartan, we’ve used this opportunity to broaden our scope beyond being a traditional medical device provider. With a wider focus, we will be able to capture surrounding opportunities in technology development, integration, and partnerships that create a synergy between our product sales and broader management services. That may sound like a lot of business jargon, but we don’t want to give away all of our secret plans this early in the game!
“That’s our basic philosophy…we are actively generating more and more value for the surgeon, their staffs, and the continuum of care for their patients from A to Z.”
5. Is Spartan Medical diversifying?
Definitely. Previously we could have been characterized purely as a spinal, orthopedic, and biologic reseller that provided close relationships and excellent service to our customers, particularly with our veteran and service member brothers and sisters. But as the big players are increasingly vertically integrating—combining technology development, manufacturing, and sales together—we need to continue to develop our own unique value proposition. So, to that end, we’re investing in up-and-coming technologies and actively partnering with our customers to provide value in ways the big players cannot (or often will not). That’s our basic philosophy, and what allows us to continue to increase our market share in an industry dominated by a few big players—we are actively generating more and more value for the surgeon, their staffs, and the continuum of care for their patients from A to Z. The more value we create for all parties, while improving outcomes, the more we can equitably capture for ourselves. I truly believe the best businesses fully consider and support the whole customer – all stakeholders – and it creates a feedback loop that results in exponential success.
6. What is the core strength of Spartan Medical that will link its past to its future?
Flexibility. As a medium-sized company with a leadership team that takes a military mindset and empowers its employees at all levels to make key decisions, we will always be more responsive than the larger players in our industry. At the same time, we’re now large enough to actually build bridges between innovators, manufacturers, and providers in ways that we couldn’t as a smaller company. At the end of the day, that really means we have amazing people, with talents spanning many fields, allowing us to respond and adapt to a changing industry more quickly and efficiently than anyone else. As Vince and I learned as classmates at the Air Force Academy, and then the AF Intelligence Officer Course, flexibility is the key to airpower. We’ve found that business is often an easier environment to navigate than a hostile battlespace. So, this core strength, learned and practiced in countless collective scenarios, is a North Star for Spartan, and a key reason I came onboard. As a funny but true story, Vince and I were never allowed to be on the same team for operational exercises, training missions, or competitions in ‘Intel School’. Clearly the word got out that the law of proportion must also apply to training scenarios. Fast forward a couple decades later, all boundaries are gone, and I am having a blast with Vince, and the most incredible team of dedicated professionals I’ve ever seen assembled – it’s like we’re the business universe of a blockbuster Marvel movie!
7. What benefits do you predict to see as a result of reorganization, and why?
I think the most important benefit of our reorganization will ultimately be that we’ve internalized becoming a learning organization, that we’ve created a structure that lets us learn and react faster than anyone else. In the military we’d call this getting inside an opponent’s OODA-loop, essentially understanding the changing industry landscape, orienting our company to be able to adapt to those changes faster than our competitors, selecting what path to take to lead in this changing environment, and executing. I think we were already world-class in that skill set, and with this restructuring we’re ensuring that we not only maintain but continue to increase that advantage every year.
“As a medium-sized company with a leadership team that takes a military mindset and empowers its employees at all levels to make key decisions, we will always be more responsive than the larger players in our industry.”