Mr. Whittaker was named Chief Executive Officer of Avalign Technologies, Inc., in January 2007. His company-wide responsibility covers the four operating divisions of Avalign: Advantis Medical, Instrumed International, Nemcomed and NGInstruments.
Mr. Whittaker has over 30 years of experience in the healthcare industry, having started as a sales representative with American Hospital Supply in 1977. His prior positions include President and COO, Teleflex Medical, 2003-2006; President, Respiratory Group, Tyco Healthcare, 2000-2003; President and CEO, Paidos Health Management Services, 1993-2000. Prior to his tenure with Paidos, Mr. Whittaker served in a variety of management positions with both Baxter International and American Hospital Supply, including President at the V. Mueller division from 1989-1992.
For the past three years, Mr. Whittaker has served as board chairman of the Lake Forest Hospital Foundation. He presently serves as a trustee for Northwestern Memorial Healthcare System and as a Director of HealthReach, Inc.
Mr. Whittaker received his Master of Business Administration from James Madison University in 1977, and his Bachelor of Science from the U.S. Naval Academy in 1971.
Mr. Whittaker recently shared his perspectives with BONEZONE.
BONEZONE (BZ): Who is Avalign Technologies?
Forrest R. Whittaker (FRW): Avalign Technologies, founded in 2005, is a company with the objective of being a world-class contract developer/manufacturer for orthopaedic/surgical OEMs, providing a total solution—from “napkin drawing” to market launch for a broad portfolio of instruments, implants and delivery systems. We have 100,000 square feet of manufacturing space located in Warsaw, Fort Wayne and Greenwood, Indiana and in Tuttlingen, Germany, with over 500 employees. Over the last five years, we have brought together four companies: Advantis, Instrumed International, NGInstruments and Nemcomed. Advantis designs, tests and manufactures cases and trays for the orthopaedic, EENT, general surgery and spine markets. Instrumed designs, manufactures and distributes German specialty instruments for the orthopaedic, ob-gyn, EENT, general, ophthalmic and cardiovascular markets. NGInstruments specializes in the manufacturing of cutting tools for the orthopaedic market, while Nemcomed focuses on the design and manufacturing of orthopaedic and spine instruments and implants. (See Exhibit 1.) We believe this collection of capabilities positions Avalign to provide the “total solution” that OEM customers are looking for.
Exhibit 1: Avalign Technologies’ Companies
BZ: Will Avalign remain four separate companies or are you integrating them to be one company?
FRW: We have been actively integrating the four organizations under one financial and quality system. We also have been taking advantage of the engineering and manufacturing synergies between organizations to enhance the “Avalign Edge.” The sales and marketing functions are integrated, as well, to ensure that branding and customer messaging is consistent across divisions. In short, our objective is to provide the customer with a unified Avalign experience, without compromising the unique competencies provided by each of our companies.
BZ: Are you looking for new acquisitions or are you as complete as you need to be?
FRW: We are always looking for ways to better serve our customers, but we are careful not to grow too fast. Avalign currently has a very solid set of capabilities and we take pride in delivering high quality products, on time, with short lead times. We want to keep it that way, but are always on the lookout for good companies that fit into our “total solution” strategy.
At the same time, we recognize that there will be a lot of consolidation of contract manufacturers over the next few years. The cost of doing business is rising; FDA requirements are becoming more stringent and the investment necessary to implement a robust quality system can be quite substantial. I think there will be a lot of demand in the near future for us to expand and deepen our capabilities.
BZ: You mentioned the “Avalign Edge.”What is your value proposition for OEMs?
FRW: The Avalign Edge is why we put this organization together. Avalign Edge is the cross-divisional offering to the customer that allows us to vertically integrate with them early in the product development process, enabling them to shorten time-to-market timelines and increase revenue generation opportunities. In addition, our engineering and manufacturing resources enable us to grow with the customer while producing continuous manufacturing cost improvements through our commitment to continuous process improvement.