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Zoning In with Rod Mayer

Rod Mayer, President of Nextremity Solutions, has served in the orthopedic industry since 1977, gaining widespread experience in sales, distribution and business development through various leadership positions.

In 2002, Mr. Mayer founded upper extremity company DVO Extremity Solutions and co-led its development, growth and eventual sale to Tornier in March 2007. He served as Vice President of Sales Execution and was a member of Tornier’s executive management team. Mr. Mayer then co-founded Del Palma Orthopedics, for which he was named President and CEO in 2009 and currently serves as a Director.

Mr. Mayer shares techniques for small companies to stay competitive, lessons learned as an industry veteran and his views on the future for the orthopaedic industry.

BONEZONE: What are some techniques for remaining competitive in the orthopaedic industry?

Mayer: In an ever-changing industry, it’s important to not lose focus on the area of specialty about which you are most passionate. As John Engelhardt taught me prior to founding DVO Extremity Solutions in 2003, it is critical to “focus within your focus.” Nextremity Solutions has and will continue to focus within the foot and ankle market. By targeting a specific market, it allows a company to focus its efforts on development of the absolute best products and solutions for surgeons and patients. This is why we are so passionate about what we do. We truly understand the needs of our customers and are committed to becoming experts in the foot and ankle market.

BONEZONE: How can a smaller size better qualify a company to serve the needs of surgeon customers?

Mayer: In my career, I’ve had the privilege of working for both large and small companies. I’ve found that a smaller company can move quickly and swiftly in their ability to respond to surgeon and customer needs. Without the daily “noise” that can occur in a larger company, we are better able to listen to our surgeons and customers and give them the personal attention they deserve. As I often say in our offices, “business is nothing more than a bunch of human relationships.”

BONEZONE: What are some challenges specific to small companies in terms of manufacturing, supplying, R&D, etc.?

Mayer: One is identifying outside manufacturers that are willing to support the smaller production requirements and forecasts of an early-stage medical device startup. Because of low manufacturing quantities, smaller companies have a difficult time accomplishing the gross profit margins required, often resulting in higher COGS (cost of goods sold) than the larger companies are able to provide. R&D can also be a challenge, since many small companies are typically developing multiple products at once with smaller staffs and limited financial resources, requiring both excellence and efficiencies while relying on outside strategic partnerships. The need for rapid and cost-effective prototypes would be another example of a common challenge.

BONEZONE: How can you overcome these challenges?

Mayer: Relationships are important to the success of a small company. This applies not only to surgeon customers, but to vendor partners as well. Being wise about reducing costs while maintaining quality can be achieved when a small company has an excellent working relationship with their outside vendors.

BONEZONE: What is the greatest lesson you’ve learned?

Mayer: Over the last ten years in particular, the greatest lesson that I have learned is that you must have a clear vision, as well as a team who is passionately committed to it. This lesson is coupled with making sure that as a leader you have each team member in a position to soar with their strengths and to do more of what they do best, more profitably, every day.

BONEZONE: Where do you see the orthopaedic industry in five years?

Mayer: I believe that we will continue to see tremendous opportunities within the orthopedic marketplace, especially for early-stage entrepreneurial companies that bring innovative solutions to the healthcare delivery system. I believe we will see the patient become more and more of the driving force as the consumer, and believe that evidence-based medicine will be a requirement in order for new technologies to be accepted by the provider. I believe we will also see the majority of orthopaedic elective proceduresperformed in ambulatory surgery centers.

What executive would you like to see featured? Send your thoughts to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. and read lessons learned from past Zoning In interviews.

Don't miss Rod Mayer during the keynote at OMTEC 2015.

The State and Future of the Orthopaedic Industry - CEO Interview