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World leader in medical products hidden in Wijnegem

6th April 2012, Comments0 comments

Orfit, the manufacturer of custom-made medical equipment based in Wijnegem near Antwerp, is a world leader in positioning and immobilisation products, with patients in 77 countries benefiting from their medical innovations. These include splints for physical rehabilitation, prosthetics and custom-made masks or moulds to keep the body in a perfect position for radiation. The latter is the fastest growing offering of the company and CEO Steven Cuypers is optimistic that this trend will continue: "Investments in the treatment of cancers is a worldwide phenomenon and our system makes it more cost-effective, ensuring improved efficiency and limiting side effects." Orfit is no more than a medium-sized enterprise with a turnover of hardly 13 million euros and about 50 employees worldwide, of which approximately 40 work in Belgium. One could well ask how they stand their ground amongst giants like Johnson & Johnson. This modest outfit prides itself in investing 15% of its annual turnover in research and development. "We set ourselves apart with our innovative products, which the big players do not offer," says Cuypers. Among these is a nanotechnology application which makes it possible to add an anti-allergic layer to a product or  a paper thin polymer to ensure greater comfort and less resistance. What makes them even more effective is the fact that they control the entire manufacturing process, from product development and marketing to the processing of feedback. In Germany, France and the US, Orfit has its own sales and service offices  and when it comes to entering new markets, Cuypers is personally involved as he believes "it’s my job as a CEO". Initial contact is made on international congresses and trade fairs, and with the help of Flanders Investment & Trade, but nowadays the company’s reputation has led to distributors themselves approaching Orfit to represent its product range. "We are very strict with our screening," Cuypers insists, adding, "it is our investment and we bring distributors and their teams to our offices for proper training".  Distributors cannot, however, accept responsibility for regulatory work, as medical products are obviously subject to various approvals. "Exports require adjustments,"says Cuypers. "Firstly in respect of regulations, but also in respect of culture. You must be in a position to convert feedback from the local market to the job floor, keeping track of local traditions. You cannot, for example, send a female export manager to Japan. Think whatever you like, but cultural differences must not pose a barrier to the development of your business. Fortunately we have an advantage: once you get to the doctors, these differences disappear in hospitals throughout the world."

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