If you’ve been unlucky enough to find yourself in a hospital recently, it’s highly likely you’re already familiar with priMED Medical Products. Their single-use surgical face masks, examination gloves, gowns, shoe covers, head covers, bandages and tape are in virtually every hospital across Canada. “Any time you get a cotton ball or an IV taped to your body, there’s a very good chance that’s us,” says president David Welsh.
Once a distributor of Chinese-made medical products, priMED reworked its business model when legal changes in China in the early 2000s permitted wholly foreign-owned manufacturers. “We initially had challenges controlling the quality or efficacy of the product,” says Welsh, “so we decided we’d be better off if we owned and operated our own facility.”
While there’s a 60-person team based in Edmonton, and all product development is out of Canada, priMED operates factories in China that employ nearly a thousand workers.
Unlike a specialized medical product that saves lives from specific and knowable afflictions, a roll of tape or a box of rubber gloves might not invoke the same passion among salespeople. So when you’re in the more-is-better world of bulk sales, how do you get employees psyched to sell gloves? You build a fun and engaging office culture.
“I like to think of us as an up-and-coming Google of our industry,” says Welsh. In small, intimate teams, priMED promotes and encourages friendly competition in a high-energy office. “We’re constantly taking people out to celebrate the latest success. This business demands teamwork, so we do a ton of stuff together.”
And in the spirit of Google, priMED just upgraded its digs to the much-anticipated priMED Mosaic Centre, the world’s northernmost net-zero energy building. Powered and heated with geothermal walls, the facility boasts an oversized kitchen, beautiful outdoor decks, built-in daycare and a new restaurant.
A third of the building is common space designed for interactive collaboration, perfect for banter about who can score the most and best product placement. The current front-runner just might be: Who secured the priMED mask a starring role on the faces of the cast of ABC’s The Good Doctor?