Based in Clonard in County Wexford, Ireland Medentech are manufacturers of Halal certified Aquatabs, the world’s number 1 water purification tablet. Aquatabs are used by all major international aid agencies and peacekeeping forces. Each year some 1 billion Aquatabs are used globally. Medentech is a 100 per cent export firm with sales to over 120 countries.
Medentech are also the world’s number one manufacturer of hospital surface infection control tablets. Nearly all international NGOs use these tabs to save lives wherever disease or infection breaks out. In addition, millions of people use Aquatabs every day to make contaminated water safe to drink.
Medentech’s production and distribution is focused in four areas: water purification and disinfection, healthcare, infection control in animals, and specialised products.
Growing from a modest four employees on start-up in 1981 to a staff of over 70 today producing approximately €11 million in exports annually and a growth rate of 25% per annum at present the Managing Director Michael Gately says the success of Medentech is quite simple in that they are and they continue to maintain being the very best in the world at what they do.
Michael says his ethos to the business is very simple, “We live on an island, Medentech sells to 123 countries, we have to be best in the world at what we do and best in the world is not the same as world-class. World class is not good enough for us; we have to be best in the world in order to compete on the world stage. We are a recognised world leader and for that reason, so technically and scientifically we ensure that we are leading the world in the scientific knowledge.
The next part of what makes a company the best in the world is customer service and we work very hard in this area, the following element is quality and we can say without doubt that there is nobody in the world that has the level of quality that we have. We are a medically licensed, pharmaceutical GMP facility and half of what we produce goes into the human body, our quality is recognised as being the gold standard in the world and others try to emulate our quality standards.
On a science and quality basis we are by far the world leader and for those reasons, we also train all of the major organisations that we service, our client list is a blue chip list of international and large companies. In the narrow band of where we operate we make sure that we are the technical world leaders.”
Financial Controller at Medentech Rosie Keary says the company’s dedicated team contributes to their global success on a daily basis, “While our staff numbers have remained somewhat the same over the last numbers of years, our success and growth can be attributed to the attitude of the team and the company’s easy adaptation to new processes. We have focused working on adapting ‘how’ we operate and this has lead to the company’s growth. Our efficiency has increased greatly and so have our sales volumes so while the head count has not gone up our company has grown into a global leader through our lean operational practices and improving our workflow continually. Through ongoing work in this area we expect large company growth again in 2017.”
Commenting on the success and growth of Medentech, Quality and Technical Manager Julie Lambert says, “We are always focused on continual improvements here at Medentech, we always question everything that we are doing and constantly consider why we do things in a certain way. By looking at our processes in this manner we have improved the efficiency of our teams and we have also improved communication and information systems. While often when people talk about improving efficiency, they look at the plant and machinery but we also strive to improve our systems. I think what makes us successful is that we are always willing to change and we are a very flexible team here at Medentech with the ability to act and react quickly.”
Michael says that staff members combined with location plays a role in the company’s growth, “Wexford is an excellent place to do business from, logistically it is very good, we have Rosslare EuroPort and Dublin is also easily accessed. The IDA and Wexford County Council are extremely supportive and helpful in every-way to us and they are very pro-business. Even in some of the areas which you would not expect to seek support of get support from them, they always endeavour to help, we are very impressed with all of the assistance we have received, as are our shareholders.”
The company continues to innovate daily and recently a new water treatment system developed by Medentech as been so well received around the world that the World Bank has now given $850,000 in order to conduct a long-term health impact study on children in Bangladesh using the Medentech ‘Aquaflo Tabs’.
Commenting on this study, Michael says, “Our product and the results have been so good in the pilot studies that local organisations have abandoned other projects that they had been working on in order to commit their resources to studying the benefits on these children’s health in the toughest parts of the world.”
The study will take place over the course of a year, studying pathogenic levels in the children’s gut flora and weight gain over time etc. It is a double-blind placebo controlled study, meaning that two tests in the same conditions run concurrently side-by-side with one group receiving the Medentech product and one group not. The study is being carried out in conjunction with Stanford University.
“We have ongoing and very active work with lead researchers at Oxford University, University of North Carolina, Tuffs University and Stanford University. We really see that the link between ongoing academic study and our business ensures that we are at the cutting edge of where infection control research is really at. There are now trials staring in twenty countries because of the product.”
The company also has a philanthropic philosophy and where possible will come on board to offer aid in crisis emergency situations around the globe, in May 2015 Medentech teamed up with the Wexford Lions Club to ensure delivery of Water purification tablets manufactured to the Nepalese capital Kathmandu to help Nepal’s earthquake-stricken people with ten million litres of safe drinking water.
Lions Clubs International Foundation Co-Ordinator in Ireland opened dialogue with Lions in Britain and a joint approach was agreed. Medentech responded immediately to a request for supplies while Sandford Freight organised the logistics. Michael says, “As a company, we quietly try to help out in international emergency situations when we are aware that aid requirements are not being sufficiently met”.
The senior management team at the company is made up of a team of women who all lead a variety of functions. Michael says, “The quantity of highly educated female labour is an untapped resource and Medentech is achieving fantastic results with its female lead team.
“The team manages a very broad range of business issues simultaneously. We have gone through a period of change recently, during which the team tackled all of the challenges it faced in a completely unfazed manner. We have an objective to be the best in the world at what we do and to maintain our world’s best position and I believe these are the right people to make this happen.” Michael concluded.
Quality and Technical Manager Julie Lambert says that the female lead senior management team contributes to the continued success of the company. “We are quite a dynamic team and I know that it is said that women are great at multitasking however Medentech does have a small team and part of our success lies in the fact that each member of the team can adapt and take on additional responsibilities to help each other out for the betterment of the entire organisation.”
Rosie Keary says, “We just get on with it, our attitude and direction at work is very straightforward, and we work very well together and just get on with it.”
Michael offers an insight to two different approaches to a challenge faced when the company was finalising the Aquatabs Flo system, “Aquatabs Flo was designed to be one of the world’s lowest costs systems and there was a group of men working on the packaging for the product, working out how to ensure the user would know when the product in the container was depleted and the container was empty. Everything that was being thought up was highly engineered and adding cost, for example, adding a floatation ball, having a flag; an internet system etc. during the meeting one of the female team members joined the room and immediately suggested the very straight forward solution of making the top of the container transparent. And that’s what we did.”
Offering advice to entrepreneurs or organisations thinking of setting up in Wexford, Michael says “Amongst the business community whether it be Chamber of Commerce in Wexford, Wexford County Council or the various Managing Directors around the county, everyone is eager to help. There is a very pro business community around Wexford. Don’t be afraid to ask for help, not only is it there but also people are most willing to give advice and be generous with their time.”
Wexford County Council has a dedicated team dealing with start-ups along with existing and expanding businesses that are considering investing in Wexford. The team offers support and advice around property solutions including ready-to-go office developments; build-and-design options plus services to assist in streamlining planning applications, which have the potential to create jobs in the county. The service is available to all businesses; if you would like to discuss an expansion of your business or moving your business to Wexford, please feel free to get in touch. For further details see www.investwexford.ie