A Passion for Progress:
An accidental entry into the medical industry for Michael Scobie has delivered the opportunity of improving eyesight for thousands of Australians.
Michael, the Managing Director of IQ Medical, attended a job interview at an arthroscopic orthopedic company, which was set up by a friend. “I kind of fell into the medical industry, on the recommendation of a friend already working in the Industry, who alerted me to a job being advertised,” Michael said.
That corporation was a big entity with orthopedic, ophthalmic, pharmaceutical and wound closure divisions.
“I joined working in orthopedics, but the ophthalmic division didn’t have anyone in Adelaide, so the Ophthalmic division general manager approached me and asked me to do both,” Michael said. “So, I got into technology for eye surgery. The corporation was eventually sold and broken up into divisions, and I decided to stay with eyes.”
At the time, cataract eye surgery was in transition from being quite a manual process to microsurgery. “Technology called Phacoemulsification had started at that time and I was involved a lot in teaching people to transition from the manual technique to Phaco,” Michael said.
“It was an exciting time – we were making real change. We were collaborating with surgeons and improving visual outcomes.”
Michael had roles with several companies and all involved significant travel. After a few exhausting years, which coincided with starting a family, Michael decided to start his own business, focused on finding and distributing the best products for improving sight. IQ Medical was born in 2002.
“I started by working with some of the companies that I knew had ophthalmic devices but no distribution in South Australia. I acted as a sub-distributor in SA for their products, which generated the revenue to go overseas and look for ophthalmic products to which I wanted the national rights,” Michael said. “It just expanded from there.”
The strategy was a sound one. IQ Medical now has 25 people across Australia. The main office is in Adelaide, there is a satellite office in Perth and sales people are working across Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane. IQ Medical also operates in New Zealand though appointing a large medical business as a sub-distributor.
“It’s a highly competitive industry,” Michael said. “In this kind of business, you really have two options – you can offer the same products as everyone else and do it cheaper, or you can be very specialised. We decided to base our business on precision and accuracy.
“Our philosophy is searching the world for the best products that fit together to create a comprehensive range offering precision and consistency. We also work with manufacturers to improve or customise the products they produce, to ensure they meet our specifications.
“For example, with cataract lens implants, we work very closely with the manufacturer; we contributed to the design and wrote and produced the marketing materials which they now also use internationally. It’s all about the exchange of ideas and working together to get the quality and range that we want. I believe that gives us an edge to compete with the global companies.”
MGI Adelaide director Steve Bray has been Michael’s accountant for 33 years, from the time Michael needed an accountant to do his first annual tax return.
Steve has helped Michael’s business transform from the initial idea in 2002, through acquisitions, investor and shareholder transitions and business growth, to the business it is today.
“One of the constraints for Michael has been finance and the ability to finance growth,” Steve said. “He needs a full range of products to meet the needs of the hospitals they supply, and implants are expensive. So he’s always forward investing and expecting a return later. There’s a lot of planning involved.”
That includes cash flow planning, inventory planning, staffing and more. The pair created a business-modeling workbook that integrates the budgeting, cash flow, expenditure, staffing and inventory programs, to give Michael a clear picture of how the business is tracking.
“I use this every day,” Michael said. “Steve initially created it and we’ve tweaked it over the years and added in new features. It’s now a critical part of the business.”
The future looks bright for IQ Medical, with new products coming on line and new staff joining the team. Michael is now mid-way through a program of putting on two new sales staff each year to 2019.
“Our business growth goals are on track,” he said. “And we have a great team who really believe they’re making a difference.”
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