Matt Branch – Veranex
It was just another day at Veranex, an end-to-end medical device company, when the main electrical switch at the company’s Providence, Rhode Island, manufacturing facility malfunctioned, cutting off the power supply.
While the obvious issue was the sudden darkness and idled equipment, Matt Branch was thinking about something else: With manufacturing at full speed, every minute without electricity was costing the company money.
So, Branch, the director of facilities and safety, hustled to procure a 335-kilowatt generator on a trailer and tie it into the building’s electrical system. Within 24 hours, he and his team had everyone back in the building and working on a major project for a large client. Meanwhile, he was on the phone with his electrician, calling in the favors he’d earned by nurturing that relationship over the years.
As Branch had determined, the electrical infrastructure at the facility was dated, and the main switch servicing the building had never been replaced. The electrician agreed to drive to New Hampshire to pick up an electrical switch he’d found on eBay.
All told, it was five days before they managed to replace the necessary equipment. If he hadn’t found a generator, Branch estimates several million dollars would have gone down the drain in the form of lost profits on the project and wages paid during the outage.
“We’re the problem solvers,” Branch says of his team. “It would’ve been a significant loss—several hundred thousand dollars a day—if we did not get the electricity back.”
To Branch, there’s ultimately more than money at stake at Veranex, a North Carolina-based company that makes medical devices and diagnostics equipment to detect life-threatening problems.
“The big picture, and why we do what we do, is knowing that we’re all in it for the same reason: saving lives,” Branch says. “There are a lot of cool things that I’ve been a part of.”
For instance, Branch enjoys reading emails notifying staffers which equipment was delivered to which hospital or client. Having watched the devices develop from the prototype stage, he loves seeing them out in the world making a difference to patients.
“When you can actually watch the process and see the prototype parts printing in one of the 3D printers, then watch the device evolve in either one of our cleanrooms or labs and then see the final product be shipped out of the door, is pretty amazing,” he says.
To that point, one project Branch helped Veranex work on was a neck band now used by NFL players. Former Carolina Panthers linebacker Luke Kuechly was among the first to start wearing it. The Food and Drug Administration has since approved it for use by athletes 13 and older.
The collar puts pressure on the jugular vein, adding to the volume of blood in the skull to provide a buffer between the brain and the skull in the event of a tackle. The goal: to prevent concussions or brain damage over time.
“That’s the way I try to motivate my team,” Branch says. “‘This isn’t just a facilities job. You’re not just going through a monotonous role or list of tasks. Understand that what you’re doing, whether it’s the smallest thing to setting up a project cell and getting projects in the door, has got a major impact.’”
Time is money
A typical day for Branch and his team might include taking part in the proposal process on a new project. Or it might involve setting up project cells to ensure the project’s needs are addressed—from electrical to data lines to additional lighting to biosafety labs.
Whether kicking off a robotics project, assembling a testing lab or moving a large-scale concept from one room to another, Branch and his team often hustle to meet tight project timelines. They also help ensure a project is closed out appropriately.
For example, they work with each project team as well as the logistics team to break down projects and ship them to their next destination. These tasks vary from breaking down equipment and building crates to assisting in the shipment of prototypes, diagnostics equipment, client-owned equipment or any other lifesaving medical device.
“From start to finish is where we really impact the business, in the operations of that stuff,” Branch says. “If those things aren’t done in an efficient manner or on time, it’s just a spiral effect.”
Joining the leadership team
Branch has worked his way up in the facilities industry, having started his career as a technician at Peregrine Property Management and Group in Rumford, Rhode Island. Within his five years there, he rose to assistant facilities manager, then to facilities manager and finally to regional facilities manager.
In 2016, he became the facilities manager at Ximedica and was hired at Veranex four years later. A beneficiary of good mentoring early in his career, he now pays it forward to his team members by staying after work to coach them, discussing schooling or training on lunch breaks and otherwise taking them under his wing.
“Being at the level I’m at, I know how things can be looked at as the boots on the ground, how you view somebody above you,” Branch says. “You don’t want to ask them certain questions, or you’re afraid to approach them. I make sure that they know that they can come to me.”
Today, Branch strategizes with Veranex’s C-suite on how to grow the company, which is expanding rapidly—it’s acquired several domestic and international companies within the last year.
“I’m looking forward to what my team and Veranex will continue to do to help save lives and set the bar for the med-device world because this is just the beginning,” he says.
View this feature in the Blueprint Vol. IV 2023 Edition here.
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