How Don Grover Creates the Ultimate Supply Chain

Acumed’s Don Grover discusses how the 500-person company has become a global power player in the medical device industry

When Don Grover talks about his job with Acumed, one word comes to mind that not many people might equate with work: fun.

However, it’s clear that the global VP, supply chain, at the medical device manufacturer thoroughly enjoys what he does, in part because his job lets him interact with so many different departments and people throughout the company.

“I’m lucky enough to be in almost the entire process,” Grover says. “I get to work from the very back end, with our suppliers and manufacturing, all the way through keeping the hospital supplied and the doctors happy. Members of our sales team are routinely in surgery. It’s kind of fun because you get to be part of everything we do.”

Acumed’s size is one of the reasons Grover can be involved with so much of the production process. The company has a global presence, but it only employs about five hundred people. It has kept up with the competition because of its ability to get products such as anatomically precontoured clavicle plates to market first.

“Our founder built a great team and is really focused on pushing the boundaries of fracture fixation in a white space of unmet needs,” Grover says. “The way we talk about it is innovation with purpose. What can we do to help patient outcomes? What can our products do to meet unmet needs—to help that surgical system that we produce and put out there? Then, we focus on those solutions.”

In the vast medical device market, a company of Acumed’s size could get lost in the shuffle. However, the company has turned its size into an advantage. A smaller staff allows the company to bring in surgeons and top salespeople who can sit in on surgeries and support doctors during procedures. The company also relies on customer feedback when designing new products. Acumed homes in on its customers’ needs and creates products accordingly.

“Our mission is to aid the afflicted through the ingenuity of our minds, the labor of our hands, and the compassion of our hearts.”

Grover’s supply chain relies on customers’ voices, too. He and other team members go out in the field with the sales force, observe hospital operations employees’ workdays, and sit in on surgeries to see how products are used. This helps them get a feel for what everyone does so they can craft strategies to develop new products.

“Those things help, and we try to get our people there,” Grover says. “People who are in our loaners group, or returns, the marketing warehouse, logistics—we get them out into the field to see how the sales folks operate and help them count inventory and things like that. It helps to break down barriers between those operating within our walls and those out in the field.”

Although Grover is modest, it’s tough to ignore the impact he’s had on Acumed’s success. After all, he and his team keep products moving, from the initial design all the way through their official launch. They have put comprehensive systems in place to ensure that Acumed has the right products in the right places within the medical device industry.

“The surgeon wants to go in and be able to fix that fracture regardless of the person that’s there or the type of fracture, so that creates large inventory loads,” Grover says. “These are expensive systems. We never want to miss a surgery, so we don’t want to not have a system available. But how do we work with our stakeholders to ensure that we are getting the necessary number of surgeries per system to support that system?”

For Acumed, that’s a combination of factors, including the metrics, numbers, set performance, and relationships. “What’s the training and the support that we need to provide so people want to use our product?” Grover asks. “Not just because it’s a great product, but also because it’s easy to use, readily available, and quick-turn.”

Acumed has found its place and voice in a crowded medical device market, but it has no intention of standing pat. As time goes by, the space will continue to get more crowded, and the only way for the company to continue to stand out is to produce more quality products.

“We have to continue to innovate,” Grover says. “The information is certainly changing. There’s less white space, so innovation might be a little more incremental. We have to continue to focus on patient outcomes. It’s a balance of staying competitive but avoiding a race to the bottom that could compromise product quality.”

However Acumed goes about expanding its reach and product portfolio, there’s a good chance it’ll do it with every department working together and having fun in the process.

“I think one of the reasons a lot of folks like it here is the mission statement we’ve had for the past twenty years,” Grover explains. “Our mission is to aid the afflicted through the ingenuity of our minds, the labor of our hands, and the compassion of our hearts. It’s something that really does resonate within the company and helps us focus. I’ve worked at other places with mission statements that were meaningful, but this is the first company I have been where it is really ingrained and draws people in.”