Howard Levy joined Biomet and the orthopaedic device industry in 2007, after serving in global strategic sourcing leadership
positions that spanned diverse industries and companies such as CSX, Navistar, Case New Holland and Ryerson. He also serves on the BONEZONE and OMTEC Advisory Panel. Here he shares supply chain trends and the best professional advice he’s received.
BONEZONE: Your supply experience includes a number of industries. What can orthopaedic device manufacturers learn from other markets when it comes to supply chain management?
Howard Levy: I would like to see greater discipline in supplier delivery commitments on new product introductions and
daily production requirements. Plus, when issues arise, greater proactive communication from suppliers that allows us to
come up with potential work-around plans or at least notify our commercial team ahead of time. While I know our forecasts
and new product development execution can be challenging at times, it still baffles me when I hear one of our Purchasing
Managers complain that a supplier had not delivered critical parts and the first they realized it was three weeks after the
supplier’s promise date. If an automotive assembly plant ran this way today, the manufacturer (and supplier) would quickly
go out of business.
BONEZONE: What changes do you expect we’ll see on the supply side in the next five years?
Levy: The industry will see greater supplier globalization as OEMs continue to accelerate their international presence and
the need for more flexible, best-cost country sourcing; the need for a few strategic suppliers that can seamlessly support
complex new product launches and meet tougher cost objectives; continued success of entrepreneurial-spirited suppliers
that offer better ideas, faster/flexible execution, lean costs and superb customer service.
BONEZONE: What has been your greatest career challenge, and how did you overcome it?
Levy: I made a couple career moves that sounded great when I accepted the positions, but subsequently found there were
issues that seemed to be broken beyond all repair. It was tough at the time to overcome, but in a long career it does make
sense that you will find yourself underwater due to a situation or your skills. Fortunately, I overcame it by finding a great
company (Biomet) and great industry (medical device) to work in!
BONEZONE: What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?
Levy: Learn from every boss you have, no matter their style, expertise, etc. I had a boss who would yell at me, “Levy, you’re
fired,” at the end of the day if I did not achieve a cost savings. While I was not always appreciative of his style, he taught me
the importance of making a difference every day.
BONEZONE: What advice would you offer others in our industry who seek professional improvement?
Levy: Do not wait for others to come up with your master development plan. Make it one of your top priorities to assertively
seek out professional development opportunities. Find a training class that helps you further develop. Finish your MBA. Ask
your boss what are they struggling to get done and volunteer to help. Many of my best on-the-job-learning experiences were
in areas that were not in my original job description.