Innovative Instruments for PhysiciansWed, 09/09/2015 - 11:33
As the second most populous city and one of the largest in Mexico, Guadalajara poses interesting opportunities for businesses who may be interested in the benefits brought about by a large population but may be wary of its downfalls, such as traffic. This was the case for SurtiMedik, a ten year old company from Morelia, Michoacan, which started as a local initiative to promote respiratory products from Hudson RCI in hospitals. These products became popular with hospitals, clinics, and doctors making the company the main distributors of this brand to this day. Carlos Alejandro Salazar Gaytan, Director General of SurtiMedik, felt that there were too few hospitals to sell to, so he decided to move the company to Guadalajara where the company was able to grow rapidly. Within three or four years, the company had expanded beyond the city to cover 80% of Mexico. Salazar describes the company’s goal as “to provide medical instruments that Mexican doctors might have discovered and come to rely on while studying abroad.”
Their strategy is to work closely with customers to understand and address their needs, and provide everything required for their practice in terms of innovative technology and training. The company is also working with manufacturers to bring the best products in the world to Mexico. Close relationships with the manufacturers facilitate the tropicalization of its products for the Mexican market.
The company began by approaching hospitals directly. However, the size of the market and the more than 3,000 distributors which are currently operating in Mexico led the company to stop selling directly to hospitals and clinics. At this point the sheer number of private and public hospitals made this business model costly and labor-intensive. Furthermore, medical devices and products are often urgently needed, requiring Surtimedik to constantly keep its products in stock in large warehouses. By working with distributors and using their own sales teams, specialties, and investments, SurtiMedik enjoys a convenient business model and frees up time for training. The company now has specialists all over the country helping these distributors with training, marketing, and branding. The company’s main areas are respiratory, anesthesia, and intensive care unit (ICU) products, which were chosen due to their importance to all surgical procedures. The company has two auditoriums, which can seat 70 and 30 people respectively, where it presents new products and give doctors the information they need to use them. This has the added benefit of generating feedback, which is communicated to manufacturers, thereby creating a demand for new ones.
SurtiMedik is both a manufacturer and a third-party distributor. The company is also building a plant in Central America as the region does not have many manufacturers of medical devices since the population is too small to support them. However, manufacturing plants are needed there as patients often come to Mexico to get necessary medical attention and supplies. This is expensive for the patients and the Mexican public health sector. Finally, SurtiMedik plans to start exporting products worldwide. It has several partnerships with two manufacturers in the US, a large manufacturing plant in Taiwan, and one in the UK.
The company is working with the Guadalajara Chamber of Commerce, a great instrument that facilitates negotiations with other businesses in the city and supports industries with the help of ProMéxico. However, while there are more than 300 manufacturers for medical disposables in Mexico, only 15 are part of this Chamber of Commerce. Salazar believes that the Mexican government provides a lot of financial support for international expositions and product promotion through ProMéxico. He tells us that “ProMéxico is paying 70% of expenses of a future visit that we will make to the Compamed exhibition in Panama.”
The company invests heavily in promotion to doctors and keeps up to date on the latest innovative products and techniques so as to easily incorporate them into its portfolio. This is not always a simple process as COFEPRIS’ regulations have slowed it down. Surtimedik is currently collaborating with COFEPRIS to push new projects forward, but certain Mexican manufacturers may not be ready to comply with the new regulations. Less rigorous regulations previously led the market to become saturated with low-quality or counterfeit products, which endangered patients’ lives. COFEPRIS regulations have greatly diminished the amount of counterfeit products in hospitals or clinics. However, while Mexican authorities are seeking to guarantee high-quality disposables, COFEPRIS needs more resources to fully enforce its responsibilities. Overall, having a strong regulatory authority is beneficial for the market.