Meeting the needs of the global healthcare community
By: Fadeke Adegbuyi
Founded in 1977 by Jerry Friedman, MIP is a global supplier of a large range of reusable textiles used in the health care industry. The firm was first known under the name Med-I-Pant and specialized in supporting patients with adult incontinence by supplying reusable briefs. Today the firm has substantially expanded its product line to include bed linens, bath linens, blankets and bedspreads, clothing protectors, incontinence care garments, patient transfer devices, laundry bags, delivery and ward carts, mattresses and a variety of other products. They have transformed their status as incontinence specialists to one of providing products, services and solutions to all stakeholders in the healthcare spectrum, including laundries, patients, and caregivers. While the Company began operations in Canada in 1977, it worked hard to expand into the United States, Europe and Australasia, an effort spearheaded by David Schreiner, the firm’s current Executive Vice-President of South American Sales. Mr. Schreiner has recently been instrumental in the formation of a joint venture in South America.
When MIP’s President, David Arditi, joined the firm in 1998, he soon observed a shift in the market place from reusable briefs to ones that were disposable. “Disposables became much more fashionable than the bulkier reusables. We had to reinvent ourselves and we expanded into a variety of other products and became a full service textile supplier rather than just an incontinence specialist,” says Arditi. “Since 1998 we’ve more than tripled the size of our business,” he adds. During his time with MIP, Arditi has seen the expansion of the company’s business in every market and a broadening of their ability to engage top customers in partnerships.
The firm attributes its success to its attitude towards business. “[We focus] on becoming partners with our customers and helping them to solve all the problems that they have, whether they asked us for a specific solution or whether we saw that there was a problem,” Arditi says. One such instance led to the creation of their patient repositioning devices, such as their Swift Slider and Turning Clock Deluxe, which allow caregivers to move immobile patients with ease and avoid instances of bedsores. Their response-to-need attitude has allowed them to significantly broaden their business in Canada, the United States, and their offshore markets. “A good part of our success comes from being able to convince customers that we’re on their side and we’re trying to bring them a solution,” Arditi says. Everything the firm does focuses on helping everyone along the continuum of care: launderers, patients, and care providers.
A key question governs their business and operations: “How can we deliver products and ideas that generate a benefit for as many people along the stakeholder line as possible?”
Instead of dabbling in other industries like hospitality, MIP sets itself apart with a team of experienced knowledgeable professionals that focus exclusively on health care. “This focus gives us better knowledge of health care issues and gives us more credibility,” Arditi notes. Their research and development team formulates their products with health care settings in mind. “We’re not just making a sheet that we can sell to anybody,” Arditi says. MIP pioneered the knit sheet into the health care market as an alternative to woven sheets. Knit sheets are processed less expensively by launderers, don’t need to be ironed or folded, and are easier to place on beds allowing care providers to save time. Knit sheets also prevent the development of bedsores in patients. Their bed pads are also specialized to perform efficiently in a health care setting. These products have stay-dry properties that dry quickly and prevent skin issues in the event of spills.
Their products are designed to process more quickly in the laundry allowing for savings. “80% of the cost of linens comes in the processing of them, not in the acquisition price…If they pay a dollar more for our bed sheets and it processes significantly less expensively over the life of that product, they’ll save,” says Arditi. In terms of sustainability, the firm does not sell any disposable products. “There is significant saving in using recyclable instead of disposable products,” says Arditi. He hopes in time that the recycling industry will catch up and be able to cost-effectively recycle the kinds of products that MIP produces.
Despite MIP’s success, challenges are still ever-present. “The biggest challenge that we all have going forward is understanding that it’s an industry that’s in a sense under attack…There’s not a facility I know of where they’re saying ‘let’s spend more money on healthcare.’ They’re all looking for ways to cut back on the cost,” says Arditi. “The challenge will always be to innovate and bring solutions to the customer that is less expensive than what is being sold today,” he adds.
With business extending across North America, MIP has noticed differences in the Canadian and American market. “The American market is more price sensitive and a little less oriented towards quality,” he says. A challenge associated with American products is the existence of ironing equipment that would be rendered useless with knit sheets that don’t require ironing. In terms of the Canadian market, despite the company being based in Quebec, the province is the most price-sensitive in Canada and not their most lucrative market. “Our products have the value in them to more than justify what the difference in price might be, but it is a real challenge to convince the decision-makers,” he adds.
In August, 2013, MIP sold a portion of their company to Banyan Capital Partners, a private equity firm. Though all of the firm’s partners will carry on their existing roles, MIP looks forward to the new found partnership. “We were looking to sell a portion of our company for long-term succession planning as well as to better position our company for the long-term and help it continue our growth internationally,” says Aviyam Friedman, Executive Vice-President of Operations and son of Med-I-Pant founder Jerry Friedman. “We look forward to taking advantage of the skills, connections, and knowledge that our new partners have to continue to live our vision and mission,” he adds.
Looking towards the future, MIP is looking for opportunities for expansion in South America and perhaps beyond. “Our goal is to continue to be able to deliver solutions to our customers that help them meet or exceed their own expectations,” Arditi says. It is a goal that is well entrenched in every department and division of the Company. “ We would like to be a constant contributor to the betterment of our industry.”
For more information on MIP, visit http://www.mipinc.info/en/index.php