How to get to market faster with medical device outsourcing with Jeff Barrett, CEO of J-Pac Medical

 

 

We're excited to dive into the world of full-service medical outsourcing with Jeff Barrett, President and CEO OF J-Pac Medical. Jeff Barrett has more than 25 years of experience building high-growth medical product-based companies. He leads the advancement of J-Pac’s growth strategy, pursuing opportunities to further drive adoption of the company’s offerings and optimizing capabilities to better serve customers.

Prior to joining J-Pac Medical, Barrett held CEO positions at GI Supply and Optim LLC and Vice President of Operations roles at Haemonetics and Aspect Medical Systems. He is also a successful entrepreneur. By applying his operational and engineering aptitude, Barrett founded Eggrock Modular Solutions, which became a disruptive business in the building technology industry. Barrett has proven expertise building and managing high performance management teams, developing and implementing optimized operating infrastructure and manufacturing processes, and both improving existing product pipelines and growing new ones.

Barrett holds an MBA from Boston University’s Graduate School of Management, a B.S. in industrial engineering, and a B.A. in economics from Rutgers University.


About J-Pac Medical
J-Pac Medical has a 40-year track record of building industry partnerships based on trust, transparency, technical expertise and quality work above all else.

To learn more about our journey to becoming the unique full-service medical outsourcing provider we are today, read our company history here.


Show notes
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Transcript

Transcript is automatically generated. Please kindly excuse any grammatical and spelling errors. 

Kelly Stanton: 

hi, I'm Kelly from Qualio and your host here at From Lab to Launch. Thanks for joining the show today. We've published over 50 interviews with innovators in life sciences across the world. It's been so inspiring to hear the stories of perseverance and innovation to improve human health and save lives. If you're enjoying these conversations, please consider subscribing and giving us a review on Apple or Spotify. And if you wanna be on from lab to launch, please see the application linked below in the show notes. Today we're chatting with Jeff Barrett, President and CEO of J-PAC Medical. Jeff has more than 25 years of experience building high growth medical product based companies. He leads the advancement of J Pac's growth strategy, pursuing opportunities to further drive adoption of the company's offerings and optimizing capabilities to better serve the customer. Prior to joining J-Pac Medical, Jeff held CEO positions at GI Supply, Optum LLC and Vice President of Operations in roles at Humanetics and Aspect medical Systems. He's also a very successful entrepreneur and by applying his operational and engineering aptitude, he founded Egg Rock Modular Solutions, which became a disruptive business in the building technology industry. Jeff has proven expertise building and managing high performance management teams. Developing and implementing optimized operating infrastructure and manufacturing processes, and both improving existing product pipelines as well as growing new ones. We're really excited to have Jeff here today. Thanks for joining us. let's talk a little bit about your background, Jeff.

Jeff Barrett: 

Sure. Well, thanks, uh, Kelly for having me. I'm excited to be here and, uh, hopefully I can offer some insight that's helpful to some of your audience at least. But, uh, yeah, my background I is interesting. I, I started my education. I went to Rutgers University and I didn't know what I wanted to do. I ended up double majoring. I went through a five year program there and did, uh, engineering and economics. So talk about two extremes and, uh, from there, I. I started my career at a division of Lockheed called Cal Comp. It stood for California Computer Company at the time. Uh, so that was commercial electronics, basically CAD systems for IBM when they made those. So I, I started out there, I got very involved in what's today called lean manufacturing and Just, I wrote an article, uh, for kind of a, a trade rag and ended up getting called by a company called Humanetics. And uh, that's my, was my transition to medical. So, uh, went through that was a real high growth situation and ipo, so that's where I got my entrepreneurial bug. And then from there I worked at several, you know, startup type companies Aspect Medical, which we sold to co, uh, Codian and some smaller companies that you mentioned in your introduction as well as my own company. So, my, my current I've been at JPAC Medical for seven years now, so it's been a, kind of started as a turnaround situation and now has expanded into, uh, growth. So it's been very interesting.

Kelly Stanton: 

That's nice. And, and JPAC serves, uh, primarily medical device industry.

Jeff Barrett: 

Yeah, anti, uh, and the diagnostics industry, we, we do a bunch of different things. We're kind product agnostic, I'd say, but we, our, our niche is single use, sterile, typically sterile, not always medical devices or diagnostic devices, but within the medical. It's pretty broad. So we do everything from bioabsorbable implants to textile implants, to general surgical, uh, instruments and products to, uh, you know, orthopedic packaging. So it's, our focus is the end of line. We don't do design, we work with the our customers to, to kind of take that. Design product and, and make it a reality from a, you know, the end of line, getting it built, packaged, sterilized, and commercialized.

Kelly Stanton: 

Awesome. And those companies are primarily small and startup in nature

Jeff Barrett: 

or. Well, it's interesting. I would say half our business is from the large OEMs and half is from what I'd call the mid-market or the smaller market. And we've definitely seen a change As the industry's changed, uh, the larger OEMs are getting more and more of their pipeline for new products through acquisition. Uh, so it's funny, we do work for the large OEMs, but we're seeing. Less and less new activity with them because they're, they're buying our smaller companies. And, uh, I have a funny story around that. One large OEM was doing an audit of us and they had certain really strict rules on what percent of our business could be them. You know, and so if we were approaching that, uh, percentage, but I had to remind them if they didn't buy six of my other customers we would've been fine. the more the market consolidates, uh, that, that rule kind of flies out the window, but. So we're, we've created a niche for ourselves in kind of the newer product market. Those can come from large or small companies. I'd say on average we're in the, the mid-market to smaller companies, but half our companies end up getting, half our customers end up getting acquired

Kelly Stanton: 

for sure. Yeah, that, that makes sense. And definitely the direction we've seen across all of life sciences, at least in the scope of my career. I can remember. You know, the Baxter and the Pfizers of the world used to have these huge r and d divisions, and now they don't anymore. Right? They're just buying up stuff as, as they find it.

Jeff Barrett: 

So that's, uh, impacted our model tremendously cuz we've had to make sure that We can scale. And so scalability's become a very important piece of our offering because, uh, so many companies like us, they, they can be either very small and unsophisticated or extremely large and not geared. To the more dynamic, you know, part of the market, the smaller companies. So we actually added a couple things, Uh, one being in-house ethylene oxide sterilization, and we added some capability in Costa Rica. So we can really offer the customers a more, a full range of, you know, being able to sterilize produce and as they grow, transition to more of a lower cost model for them. Uh, so that's worked out well for.

Kelly Stanton: 

Good. Yeah. My, my next question was, uh, to ask you about your competitive edge and advantage, but I think you've already kind of led into that. You know, definitely. Some amount of consolidation of the number of suppliers a small company would have to deal with and sterilization. That's, that's a great addition to your product lineup. Yeah. Cause that's always another vendor to manage, Right.

Jeff Barrett: 

So it is. And there's you know, obviously a lot of your, uh, Your listeners will be experiencing the shortage of EO capacity across the country. It's, it's very difficult to get EO capacity right now, especially for our customers that tend to be on the smaller side. So that's why we

Kelly Stanton: 

did that. That makes a lot of sense. And what a great demonstration of your commitment to your small customers.

Jeff Barrett: 

Well, you know, You gotta, you, you said, what is our, You asked what our competitive advantage is and, uh, you know, I thinking of that and, you know, I'd, I'd love to tell you that we, we do, we have some system advantages, right? We're able to scale. We've got Costa Rica where we have in-house eo, we do full turnkey package sterilization validation. We, we are a one stop shop geared towards smaller to mid-size companies, so that, that is a, is a great advantage. But I think in the end, you know, I'm selling peace of mind. I see this is my first foray into contract manufacturing. I've always been on the OEM side and it took a little bit of time here. To convince that JPAC employees that you've, you've gotta sell from a position of strength, not a position of weakness. You know, don't lead with price, right? Be confident of the value you are providing the customer, and, and understand that for these customers, the smaller customers like I used to be. It was a lot of sleepless nights worrying about if suppliers would deliver. So if I had to pay 10 or even 20% more, but they could deliver and give the quality in service, I had no problem paying that. And that took some time, uh, culturally to get people away from, Oh, we've gotta offer discounts to get this customer. Well, actually, you don't. You just have to be good. you know?

Kelly Stanton: 

Yeah. Yeah. Definit. So how does JP Pac's med device outsourcing process then improve speed to market for the, for the customers? Well, so

Jeff Barrett: 

a lot of our customers, so this is the end of line. So you're looking at creating a package that protects the product and keeps it sterile. You've gotta validate your sterilization, validate your packaging, validate your manufacturing and assembly, and then start to scale in a, in a controlled fashion. That part, you know, the post design part is very problematic. Long. Painful and expensive. So what we've done is we've brought resources in so we can control all of it under one roof. So it used to be customers would come to us and we were just the packaging people. Right? And the customer then would outsource. Okay. Sterilization validation, packaging validation, residual testing, the whole litany of of stuff. We, we do that all. Perform it all in house, but we manage all that now. So we've been able to compress a lot of time as, uh, customers no longer have to deal with four or five subcontractors and then get back to us and say, you know, for example, I need some product for sterilization validation. And we say, How much do you need? And they say, We don't really know. We'll get back to you. You know, all that is done now we understand. The process and we control the manufacturing. So whether, you know, we're, we're manufacturing, you know, a, a certain lot, we understand what's required, you know, we understand you know, some of the technicalities of what, what has to happen. So we've been able to cut a lot of lead time outs. For that. So typical, for example, typical sterilization validation outside, you know, that can be a four, five month process. Because of our in-house capability, we can get that done in, you know, two and a half months, that sort of thing, Three months at the latest so we can compress it.

Kelly Stanton: 

Wow, that's amazing. I was just thinking about, uh, past life experience in different organizations and having to play. You know, project manager, telephone game between my sterilization house and my testing house. And my And my packager and, uh, yeah. Wow. That's, that's an amazing problem to solve. And as you said too, like, if you could compress those timelines in the startup space that time is, is money. It's, it's how much faster can you get on the market and get a good positive revenue stream going?

Jeff Barrett: 

It's true. And you know, As much as that's very important with our, you know, the offering. But it really comes down to people too. You, that model requires a really intensive service structure, right? You've, we really have to have good people that are customer centric. And that's hard to find. And we've got good ones and we try to, you. Foster that, those, those folks. So that, cuz that's the key, right? And in the end, our customers are a little less sophisticated than the larger OEMs. They don't know all the regulatory issues. Mm-hmm. So we've gotta guide them through that path and educate them and that, that takes a different kind, a different style if you're gonna do it well.

Kelly Stanton: 

Yeah, definitely, definitely. Well, so switching gears to you a little bit cuz we, we do have a lot of entrepreneurs on the show and you know, since you're also an entrepreneur you founded Egg Rock Modular Solutions. Tell us a little bit about that project.

Jeff Barrett: 

Well, this is a wild story. I don't know if I have all the time. I'll try to summarize it, but it, it's pretty interesting. So my life, my career, I started at Humanetics and that was, you know, I got there and it was like, you know, a 40 million company and then seven years later it was, you know, 500 million. It grew a lot and I really got my entrepreneurial bug there. Really got some. Exposure and, you know, lessons learned. And I just realized that I really like building, you know, building. So, you know, several jobs later at Aspect Medical when we sold it to Codian. I decided to leave after seven years and decided I want to do something on my own, but I didn't know what to do, so I took, I, I had the opportunity to take a year. So I said, All right, I'm taking a year. I'm gonna figure this out. I'm gonna do something. And, uh, my wife recommended that I hire a career coach So I go to this career coach. And it ended up being really a life changing process for me. I won't go through the whole thing because it was months and months of work, but the defining moment in my life was when he asked me when you go to Barnes and Noble, where do you go, And I said, Interesting. I said the architecture section. And he said, Why? And I said, I have no clue. So then we spent the next period of time focusing through that. But for, you know, some of your listeners that tend to be more entrepreneurial, it's really finding the intersection of your gift and your passion. And that question about Barnes and Noble was really teasing out the pa my, the passion area of me, which I really didn't know what it was. And that's how I started at Rock. You know, leveraging my experience in manufacturing with my interest in architecture. And that's what happened. Uh, that's, that's how it started. So I, I started this company. I wanted to build buildings faster and build them in a factory setting, but not, you know, not modular housing, more, you know, sophisticated And, uh, I met someone and said, Hey, you should talk to the big hotel companies. I know someone at Marriott. So I go down to Marriott in Bethesda, Maryland. And, uh, a guy I, I'll never forget it, I said, Well, you know, what's your biggest challenge in building the hotels? He's like, bathrooms. He's like, We can't. He goes, We build a, a 500 room hotel and it takes us nine months to a year even to open it. We'll open it, but we'll keep the top, you know, five floors idle while we're working through all the problems with the construction, you know, And, uh, that's what started my wheel wheels turning. I ended up starting a company. Made complete, you know, Marriott quality and higher bathrooms in a factory shipped complete with everything down to the mirrors and tile and everything. They slide 'em right into the building and, uh, it, a typical hotel was now being built in three, four months faster than they used to. And, uh, that just set. A great, uh, run. I did, uh, I think about 8,000 bathrooms all over the country in Canada before we sold the company Wow. So if you can imagine, here's this guy from the med device industry who had an interest in architecture. I start this thing I wrote, I raised, uh, 6 million bucks. Had a facility, 80,000 square foot facility with 80 people, crank out all these, uh, hotel, you know, rooms and, and we expanded in the military, ba uh, military and hospitals and everything. But it was a good lesson there, you know, staying focused, being in a niche and you know, leveraging what you're good at and what you really enjoy.

Kelly Stanton: 

Yeah. Wow. That's fascinating. I never really thought. I was just traveling last week for work. Actually. I wasn't that a Marriott, but Huh? A modular bathroom.

Jeff Barrett: 

Its, it, the way, the way to think about it is that it's from the outside, it just looks like a bunch of steel, but you open the door and you walk in and it's like it's done. And so they'll slide it in the building and they just finish off the exterior and integrate it with the floors and stuff. But it had a lot of technical challenges with a lot of technical challenges, believe it or not. We ended up using some technology. You know, I'll give you one example. So you have to make the floor of this bathroom very thin and very strong. Of course, you can't. You can't step up into a bathroom, right, into a, in a hotel room. It has to kind of match the floor. So we went to the aeronautical industry and found certain honeycomb, honeycomb, uh, products that were extremely strong and light. We used those as the backer. Uh, so we did a lot of things like that. We would for example, we would, uh, we'd go into this bath and no two. Bathtubs were the same. So we created this system where we laser measure, we'd scan the bathtub, and that got routed to a CNC machine. It would cut all the tile and everything, all automatically. So we took this room that took, uh, 80 hour, 80 labor hours to build, and I think we got it down to 12 hours. It was awesome to me, really. I mean, people laugh when I tell 'em what I did, but behind the scenes it, it was all this manufacturing. Technology I learned in the device industry. So yeah. But in the end we sold it and I wanted to get back into devices, so that's what I did. Sure, sure.

Kelly Stanton: 

No, but what great, uh, examples of, of how there's so much, uh, So many common threads amongst industries too, you know, with like, you know, you, you talked a little bit at the beginning about lean manufacturing principles and, and how standardization of processes can really speed things up and make sure you've got good consistent product, good, consistent quality. Uh, I assume obviously you're using some of that sort of, uh, technology then in JPAC as well.

Jeff Barrett: 

Oh, of course. Yeah. You know, we're, since we work with earlier stage companies, you know, they struggle a bit. Design for manufacturing. And although we don't design medical devices, we're fairly skilled at kind of looking at where they are, what they're, what they've got, and being able to offer suggestions, you know, for down the road when it's high volume how to improve that as well as, as well as quality. So, uh, yeah, absolutely the, all the concepts of the same, you know, uh, it's just that medical life science is a little bit more regulated. There's some, you know, nuances in it, but, you know, in the end it's, it's producing a good, a good product.

Kelly Stanton: 

And producing it at scale. Yeah, Absolutely. Yeah. Design for manufacturability is definitely a challenge, you know? Ugh, what a, what a huge challenge in the medical device space in

Jeff Barrett: 

general. It is, It is. I, we see it all the time. We're, we do a lot in the diagnostic point of care diagnostic space. Uh, we specialize in making re uh, packaging. Uh, blister packs for mi uh, for reagents, wet reagents that go on these microfluidic cards. And it's pretty complex stuff. These mi microfluidics, it's growing quite rapidly. Uh, Covid really helped expand that, but we, we find that because it's such a young industry, everyone's trying to reinvent the wheel and mm-hmm. it, it. We use our experience and say, Here's what we're seeing. Here's how you access a reagent on a microfluidic channel. Here's what we're seeing. Best practice. And, but still, the engineers still want to do it their own way in many cases. And it, it's a struggle. It really is. Yeah.

Kelly Stanton: 

Yeah, definitely. Yeah. So for the listeners out there, boy, listen to the experts. They, uh, they bring so much experience to the table to help you.

Jeff Barrett: 

Well, that's what's interesting about a lot of people think contract manufacturing, you know, Oh, we're just gonna bring this product out to bid and we'll go to different, you know, contract manufacture. They don't recognize sometimes that I, I work with a hundred customers, right? At any one time I. I see 30 orthopedic implants at a time. You know, I see what's going on in the industry. These, this is a lot of knowledge that younger companies can leverage, right? Mm-hmm. and if they're willing, if they're willing to listen, And I think that's, that's the bridge, you know?

Kelly Stanton: 

Yep. That is always a delicate balance for sure. As, as someone with a lot of ears in the quality space can at attest to Yeah, exactly. A lot of those challenges and they just, you know, Yeah. So you've gotta, you've gotta take all of that experience, uh, in and, and honestly, you know, leverage it. You're really selling yourself short if you don't, and just gonna take you longer to get there, so,

Jeff Barrett: 

Oh, that's for sure.

Kelly Stanton: 

Multiple times. Oh my gosh. Right, right. Yeah. I've had, I've had that exact experience in trying to advise customers on things like, you know, what needs to go into. Five, 10 case submission, for example. Yeah. You know, the agency is going to ask for X, Y, and Z and they're like, Oh, well, we'll just, we are not gonna worry about Z. And I'm going, But really you're gonna, And guess what, You know, you,

Jeff Barrett: 

I, I, I hear it all every day. It's just, it's somewhat mind boggling, but, you know, I understand the pressure for time. It's just, look, it's not our call. But we guide them and try to point out the risk that's associated with that. Yeah, I certainly would never ship a product. I felt, you know, didn't meet the regulatory requirements. But as you know, in the end, the, the FDA is. They're not telling you exactly what they do. They're telling you what they want and how you do it. In a lot of cases, it's up to you,

Kelly Stanton: 

It's up to you. Exactly. The regulations are deliberately vague.

Jeff Barrett: 

I like to say they really are. And you get into your own, uh, you're, you're your own worst enemy in many cases, cuz you, you over specify to meet a, a requirement when maybe you didn't have to, you know, you create your own problems. So. Yep. That's part of it too. You know, helping educate customers about Well you've, you're requiring all these tests from us, but you may want to consider there. They may not all be required. I mean, while we're trying to meet this reg Well, that reg is you. The spirit of that reg is this, and here are the firm requirements and you may not have to do all this testing to meet that requirement. So sure, we don't what to do, but we'll refer 'em back to folks like you to, uh, we'll say you need to, you know, talk to your quality folks about that, but here's what we're recommending, you know? Yeah,

Kelly Stanton: 

definitely. Definitely. Well, what are some pieces of advice you would give to folks out there who are entrepreneurs getting started themselves?

Jeff Barrett: 

Well, look, I mean if I'd say you gotta know your customer, I think that's a big learning. I had you and I mean, know them, so go work with them. Asked, you know, to be part of whatever they do and to be a fly on the wall and get out there and get your hands dirty. If, if you don't have that, you're, you're gonna miss, uh, something. It's not, it's not so much about the product. That's what I'm, I'm kind of getting at. I mean, it is about the product, but you gotta be able to meet a specific need. And I, I think a lot of entrepreneurs miss that. You know, they're, they're more into the technology or what could be, but what people are willing, I, I learned this early that the hardest thing you'll ever get a customer to do is write a check. And they're not gonna write a check unless it. Really is valuable to them no matter how great the technology is. So that, I think that's my first, my second one, which I think is even more important is whatever you think you need for money, uh, you better get three times that right? Yep. I mean, it's just a fact. I mean, people told me to do two times, but after going through it for six years, I'm convinced it's three times. Yeah, you, and, and for entrepreneurs, I'm, I'm focused right now more on the, on the business side. Cause I think that's what crushes a lot of entrepreneurs, uh, cuz they're more focused on the technology. But, you know, raising money, understanding your customer, making sure your product has a very niche offering and, and you can demonstrate value in that niche. You know, Understanding your business model, right? What, what is gonna impact revenue, cash flow, uh, capital, you know how much cash you're gonna need. These are all things people fall, fall down with. And I guess that gets me back to something I learned is I, I really believe in what I call a kitchen cabinet. When you're starting a company, not so much a board. I think a board of directors brings some challenges and you know, obviously they have voting. You know, voting rights and, and, you know, have a real impact on what the company does. But I think in the early stages, it's wise for entrepreneurs to have what I would call a kitchen cabinet, which is they're not vote, that they don't vote, But these are people you respect. They're part of your, you know, your network. They perhaps, you know, maybe you give them something, but a lot of 'em are just very interested in what you're doing and are willing. To offer advice and they, they can be a great source of information. So, so maybe you're, you're starting a molecular diagnostic test, you know, for some disease and you've got the assay development and you've got what you want to do, but. Having somebody that's been through that they may not have the time to sit on a board. When people like myself get invited to boards, it's kind of like you really gotta pick and choose. But if someone's like, Hey, you know, can we have a coffee? Once a month. Hey, I'm all for that cause I'm having coffee anyway, So, yeah. You know, I mean, so to sit with a young entrepreneur and give them advice, and that's very welcome for me, but to be invited to a board and I have to go to core quarterly meetings and you know, that, that's a different level of commitment, but in the end I'm giving the same, same advice I think. But yeah, yeah. So I know a lot of arrows in the back, but I think those are, those are some of the. The important things.

Kelly Stanton: 

Good, good. And my favorite question, I love to ask, if you could go back to the start of your career, what would you tell yourself now that you've got all this experience under your belt?

Jeff Barrett: 

This may seem seem crazy, but I'd tell myself, and this was crazy, right? For an engineer outta school, just wanna do engineering. Go get customer experience as fast as you can. Get some sales experience. No matter what that is. And I'm saying Go offer. Go offer. Cuz no one's gonna come to you and say, Hey, you know, Mr. Young engineer, you, would you like to work in sales? You're gonna have to go advocate for yourself for that. And even if it's just going on some sales calls with no real role, uh, or maybe going out as a technical resource for customers, you know, a sales engineer, get that experience, I would've told myself I. I think the other thing would be is tell myself in the beginning. Your career is a journey, right? It's, I I always thought of it as a specific thing. Oh, I'm, I'm this engineer. No, I gotta be a senior engineer, then a principal. And, you know, you get so focused in that, I, I would've told myself is that take a little bit broader perspective and consider your career like you're carrying a toolbox, you know, throughout these decades and years that you're gonna need to put things in that toolbox that you, that you need. And not all of them are gonna be. Your immediate job, you know? So for example, I always knew I wanted to do my own thing. I didn't know what it was. And it wasn't until later in my career, after I matured a bit, that I understood, okay, I need some finance experience, I need some sales experience. I, I don't know what I'm gonna do, but I had a venture capital. This tell me, once you get Jeff, just be directionally correct. You don't have to be. You don't have to be right on what you wanna do, but just be directionally correct. Understand some of the skill sets you're gonna need down this path and start to get those in your, in your toolbox. That helps quite a bit. So I guess I'd say, uh, Go a little broader than deeper sometimes can be valuable. I know in your job when you're, you're on the younger side, you gotta go pretty deep. You gotta know what you're doing in, in your job. I, and I understand that, but take some opportunities to broaden it out. Definitely.

Kelly Stanton: 

Definitely. That's great advice. Well, where can people go to network follow along and connect.

Jeff Barrett: 

Yeah, I'm, I'm happy to pretty much talk to anybody you can, you can find me on LinkedIn No problem. Uh, might take me a bit to get back to you, but I, I will get back to you and, uh, Yeah, no worries. Happy to offer any, any advice and counsel I can, uh, especially for entrepreneurs out there that might be struggling with you know, getting it off the ground.

Kelly Stanton: 

Awesome. Well, thank you so much. Appreciate your time today.

Jeff Barrett: 

Yeah, thanks, Kelly.