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Medtronic continues its expansion at a fast pace


By Jannette Rivera Melecio

Special to The Star


After more than 60 years in the medical device market, Medtronic continues its expansion of leadership in the local and international markets. Its winning formula: innovation, recognizing the value of human capital and social responsibility.


The sustained growth of the multinational is marked by annual sales that exceed $30 billion with operations in 135 countries and 85 plants. In addition, 80% to 90% of its products are manufactured by Medtronic, evidence of the diversity of its production.


Unlike other companies, Medtronic’s capacity allows it to launch a new product on the market every 18 to 24 months, with a new version of a given product launching in less than three years. Therefore, its investment in research and development reaches 8% of profits. Innovation is one of the company’s key principles, which translates into profitability and a better quality of life for patients: restoring health and relieving pain.


For Anthony Ruiz, Medtronic’s director of finance and philanthropy, the expansion projects need government support and are “a big challenge,” although he acknowledges that Puerto Rico’s leadership has been a “key” factor in the company staying on the island.


“The reality is that it is quite uphill, but we can get rid of the fact that Puerto Rico’s salaries are much higher than Costa Rica, Singapore, Malaysia,” Ruiz said. “These are areas that we are working on. The quality of our personnel, the technical quality and our commitment have kept Medtronic in Puerto Rico.”


He emphasized that one cannot lose sight of the need to “reduce electricity costs.”


“May the education part continue to develop, moving to the next level,” he said. “[May] the permitting part be a more effective and efficient one, that the government works in a direction that is more cost-effective.”


Hurricane Maria put into perspective the need to update and implement emergency contingency plans and not depend on the government. Now, should a similar event occur, Medtronic can continue operations by equipping itself with generators and supplying water and diesel with twice the capacity it needs for a seven-day operation.


“It is necessary for the government to become cost-effective,” Ruiz said. “How do you seek to improve your processes? LUMA [Energy] we know at the beginning had many situations. … Apparently, from what has been seen in the last three to five months, things have improved, but that does not mean that [such situations] should not be prevented.”


Ruiz urges the government to establish “robust contingency plans in the areas of transportation, ports, airports, communication, electricity, fiber optics, which only comes through San Juan, although I know that one works through Ponce, it is necessary to have fiber through both sides.”


The executive also understands that the changes in government administration on the island represent a challenge for companies.


“A better job must be done in establishing a long-term plan,” Ruiz said. “The area of economic development should not be subject to political fluctuations and should not be subject to changes of administrations.”


Medtronic is carrying out a five-year projected plan, anticipating current changes, particularly in the area of technology. For this reason, Ruiz says, the company has given this “feedback to the government of Puerto Rico, to [Economic Development and Commerce Secretary Manuel] Cidra specifically; we have worked with them.”


“It’s not just bringing companies to the island, but also keeping them and having them,” he said.


Meanwhile, social responsibility and support for communities is a fundamental part of Medtronic’s mission. “We are part of the community; we are just an extension of where we are,” Ruiz said. “If Medtronic flourishes, communities flourish. We seek that social impact. We donate and support because we are part of the future of Puerto Rico.”

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