If solving a client’s pain point is the key to developing sustainable business relationships, then Lucid Innovative Technologies appears to have found the right market cavity to fill.
Now starting its first full year in business, the Leland-based company brings medical, dental, surgical and spinal devices to market through a precision manufacturing model that takes a product from concept through regulatory approval.
Built on the backs of three area firms – Manufacturing Methods, OrthoKinetic Technologies and OrthoKinetic Testing Technologies – Lucid is supported by J2 Consulting of Grand Haven, Michigan, which helps medical, dental and surgical startups bring their products to market.
Each company’s top officer is a co-founder and principal of Lucid, and each shares its expertise and equipment with clients. The new firm is self-funded.
There is now a “drastic need” for both specialty components and finished devices in the medical and dental fields, said Pete Peterson, who founded Manufacturing Methods in 2006.
Operating out of a 40,000-square-foot facility on Industrial Boulevard in Leland, Manufacturing Methods handles both high-volume continuous runs and small-volume spot production for clients, using in-house capabilities that include computer-integrated machining, metal fabrication, welding, water-jet cutting and 3-D printing.
The contract manufacturing company was a Coastal Entrepreneur Award winner last year.
Its clients range from major corporations to small-scale businesses, and its products are found anywhere from nuclear power plants to recreational fishing boats.
One of the firm’s newer specialties is its work with Nitinol, a material with extreme elasticity that permits rapid changes in the shape and movements of wires used in precision instruments such as catheters and stents.
Working with Lucid, the staff at Manufacturing Methods has developed proprietary processes to “push the envelope” with Nitinol, enhancing its ability to assist health care providers as they care for their patients.
John Boos, managing partner at J2 Consulting and one of Lucid’s co-founders, said the demand for more sophisticated medical and dental products is attributable to a large, aging population in need of procedures such as hip and knee replacements, the growing obsolescence of many medical devices, increased industry emphasis on quality of care and a tighter regulatory environment for health care devices.
A backlog of orders for medical and dental devices at larger manufacturers has helped drive demand for Lucid’s services, Boos added.
“A lot of the small companies cannot find a manufacturer. … A lot of these small companies and the mid-sized companies were put on the back burner,” he noted, and the goal at Lucid is to “hit those deliverables with high quality.”
To help ease the pain of clients as they navigate the regulatory process, Lucid taps into the operations of OrthoKinetics, whose president, CEO and Lucid co-founder, Lisa Ferrara, evaluates devices from the proof-of-concept stage to commercialization, reviewing prototypes, determining the safety and efficacy of implants and guiding clients through a device’s validation process to certification.
She works out of an office in Southport and a testing lab in Shallotte.
Ferrara, who directed the spine research laboratory in the department of neurosurgery and orthopedics at The Cleveland Clinic, has also worked with the medical device advisory committee of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
Ferrara’s hands-on approach to working with clients is part of a larger consultative culture at Lucid, where the three principals sit down with each new customer to pinpoint needs and expectations “whether they ask for it or not,” Boos said.
“This business is really word-of-mouth if you do a good job,” Ferrara said.
Lucid is currently shipping its finished products to wholesale clients in North Carolina and four other Midwest and West Coast states via UPS and FedEx.
With the addition of a new surgical client, the company will begin utilizing an existing in-house, FDA-certified “clean room” that is continuously monitored to remove any contaminants.
The firm is also building a second clean room, to be opened this year and made available for lease by outside firms wishing to package their own products at the site.
The growth forecast at 11-month-old Lucid is strong, with the company anticipating “three times our current year” in gross revenues in 2018 and four times the number of clients in the first half of the year, Boos said in late December.
In addition to a straight manufacturing contract, Lucid is open to forming partnerships with entrepreneurs who are willing to assign patents or products in return for royalties or who prefer to develop and launch their product by investing in Lucid.
There are very few precision manufacturers in the medical and dental markets that develop instruments and implants in a comprehensive manner, from design, prototyping and testing all the way through to manufacturing, assembly, regulatory approvals and shipping, Peterson said.
“Everyone brought a part that was seen to be missing,” Peterson said of the new team at Lucid
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