Lev Melinyshyn is creating medical devices that can save livesBy Mark Scott
Lev Melinyshyn takes every opportunity he can to remind his employees at UreSil that the work they do can save lives.
“It’s a huge responsibility,” says Melinyshyn, chairman and CEO at the medical device development, manufacturing and distribution company. “There are dozens of hospitals in the Chicagoland area, and a lot of those hospitals use our products. I tell my employees, ‘As you’re making these devices, keep in mind that your brother, your mother or somebody else close to you could be in one of those hospitals and need one of those devices. We want to make sure each one works perfectly, every time.’”
UreSil specializes in creating products and devices used to perform minimally invasive procedures by making smaller incisions, thereby reducing the risk of infection and enabling patients to recover more quickly.
“We have the ability to develop products that can make the patient more comfortable and make it easier to do these important procedures,” says Melinyshyn, who leads the company with President and CFO John Morrissey. “What I enjoy most about being at UreSil is the ability to interact with physicians and talk about new products that are needed or improvements to existing products that can help people.”
Mentorship provides opportunity
Melinyshyn had always wanted to work in the medical device industry and earned a bioengineering degree from the University of Illinois. He got his first chance in the industry following graduation, but he says something was missing. As an engineer, he was frustrated that the positions he held did not provide an opportunity to see the devices he developed put to use.
That changed when Eddie Goldberg, a surgeon with business aspirations, bought UreSil in 1986. Goldberg appointed Melinyshyn as his development engineer and later, engineering manager.
“I consider him to be my mentor,” Melinyshyn says of Goldberg. “He taught me a lot about the industry. We would scrub in and he would bring me into the operating room so I could watch him use devices. This worked really well. I’m a bioengineer, he’s the physician, so Eddie would demonstrate the various deficiencies of these products. Then we would come back to UreSil, meet with the rest of the technical team and try to come up with better versions of devices, better ways of doing things.”
Goldberg passed away in 1999, and in 2004, Melinyshyn and several colleagues completed a deal to buy UreSil. Those experiences today inform Melinyshyn’s approach to leading the business and engaging with his employees in the pursuit of continuous improvement.
An ever-expanding network
There are many companies that work in the same space as UreSil, creating products to make medical procedures less invasive or in some cases, completely noninvasive, Melinyshyn says. However, many of these other companies don’t have good channels of distribution or ways of selling their products to their primary users, interventional radiologists. This challenge creates an opportunity for UreSil, which has built a distribution network that sells in the U.S. and 35 additional countries.
While these other companies handle the design and manufacturing of a product, UreSil uses its strong channel of distribution to then deliver the product to customers under the UreSil brand. Thus far, this private label approach is only being used for delivery to U.S. companies. Melinyshyn says efforts are under way to determine what it would take to expand the program to include international distribution.
These private label products are one way for UreSil to create new business with additional companies. Another is through UreSil’s growing base of contractual relationships reached with group purchasing organizations.
This gives the innovative work taking place at UreSil an even broader reach and has allowed it to form contractual relationships with group purchasing organizations.
“They purchase products or negotiate pricing for large groups of hospitals,” Melinyshyn says of group purchasing organizations. “We now have contracts with pretty much all of the major GPOs. This really gives us the ability—the sales reps call it a hunting license—to go in and look for the business in these accounts. That’s been a big thing for us.”
It all adds up to a job that brings Melinyshyn a great deal of satisfaction.
“I’m really grateful for the opportunities I’ve had at UreSil,” he says. “I enjoy the chance to use our creativity and ingenuity to work in tandem with physicians to continue to develop new products that help make things easier for patients.”
When Chairman and CEO Lev Melinyshyn considers the success UreSil has experienced in recent years, he gives a lot of credit to Huntington.
“It’s always challenging for smaller companies to generate cash to invest in new products or invest in inventory,” Melinyshyn says. “Huntington, using their SBA process, has been phenomenal at helping us be able to afford to purchase inventory so we could launch a new product called an Evolution® Evacuated Suction Bottle. They have also helped us with SBA loans to purchase new equipment, which improves our manufacturing efficiency.”
In addition, Huntington has assisted UreSil with some of the regulatory costs that are necessary to maintain compliance in its European markets.
“The Huntington team is always ready to help us any way they can,” Melinyshyn says.
For more information, visit uresil.com.