Micropulse on the Grow Again
Micropulse Chief Executive Officer Brian Emerick says any other manufacturer can make the same orthopedic devices as his company; instead, the blueprint for success at the Columbia City-based contract manufacturer centers on culture. Micropulse, which started 31 years ago in his garage, has produced steady, incremental growth “organically, by word of mouth and brand,” and Emerick believes the strategy is delivering again with a $6.8 million expansion.
The company recently announced the investment—but it’s not a boom in business, says Emerick. He notes such economic development announcements can be a bit deceiving, because “we’re always growing.”
“Normally, [our top line revenue] is growing 10 percent plus per year. In 2018, we grew 18 percent, and this year, we're expecting to grow probably 15 percent. And we've been consistently adding people,” says Emerick. “We're not pushing growth or forcing growth; we grow as customers want us to do more.”
Emerick notes the company is “known for the hard stuff,” specializing in low-volume manufacturing that has a high degree of difficulty. Although hip and knee implants comprise one of the largest segments of the orthopedic industry, it’s only a small piece of Micropulse’s portfolio. Instead, the company focuses heavily on extremities, such as shoulders, wrists and elbows, which Emerick says is “a really hot area” in the orthopedic industry and one of the fastest growing segments.
“And we’re in an era of a lot of mergers and acquisitions, and those don't always go smoothly,” says Emerick. “We've been a stable factor sometimes during those, where [customers] can look to us to continue the flow of product.”
Micropulse says another beneficial industry trend is customers looking to reduce suppliers.
“They don't want 100 suppliers they have to manage; they want a few suppliers that can do a lot,” says Emerick. “So it's important to have scale. I wouldn't want to be much smaller than we are; we're seeing larger and larger opportunities, and it requires a lot of capacity to do those.”
The $6.8 million investment will enhance Micropulse’s capabilities as business opportunities grow; the project includes purchasing new equipment to increase production, growing the footprint of the company’s facility and renovating another portion of the operation.
Although steadily growing larger, Micropulse has a long tradition of investing in small business by supporting startups and entrepreneurs. The company opened its Orthovation Center in 2010 to incubate early-stage companies and boasts several success stories, including Restoration Medical Polymers, also in Columbia City, and Carmel-based Nanovis.
Emerick believes the common thread throughout every operation at Micropulse is its culture and business philosophy.
“We don’t have salespeople. We never have. Our business has grown organically, by word of mouth and brand, and that’s absolutely the way we want to do it,” says Emerick. “Anybody can buy the machines and build the buildings that we do, but it’s the culture that binds it all together: the way the team comes together, works together with each other, with the customers and with the community. Culture eats strategy for lunch every day.”
In addition to “interesting things going on with some of our incubator companies that will probably lead to more business for Micropulse,” Emerick also sees growth opportunities in its newer endeavor of sterile packaging. He believes the company will continue its steady march forward, fueled by the same unique culture that has moved it from his garage to an ever-expanding operation.