Medical Imaging with a Difference

AllTech Medical Systems America

AllTech Medical Systems Inc. is a U.S. based designer, manufacturer and distributor of medical diagnostic Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) products. The company has defied the odds, taking on an industry saturated with corporate giants and emerging strong and successful, amongst some of the world’s largest producers of medical instruments.
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AllTech has proved to the industry and the world that with skilled staff, a client-focused approach and one eye on the bottom line, success can be achieved in even the most competitive business scenarios.

The company was started from the ground up by Mark Zou, who owned a Cleveland based provider of accessories for MRI machines. His previous work with the major imaging companies influenced Zou to venture out on his own and, in 2001, he sold his accessories business to GE to eventually form AllTech in 2005. Moving from accessory manufacturing to a full-service MRI systems company was a major step up, particularly in a market which was so competitive. Despite the challenge, AllTech seized the opportunity, believing that there was a market demand for a client-centered, affordable alternative – an alternative that AllTech could deliver.

According to Vice President and General Manager Will Joliat, the company’s biggest strength is, “our depth of knowledge in MR, as well as our depth of knowledge of our customers before we even meet them. We know what their needs will be, and we are able to address those needs.” Decades of experience in the MR industry underpins the success of the growing company and continues to separate it from the client management approach of its competitors. A closer look at AllTech illustrates a passion for engineering and a dedication to serving the changing needs of the MR market.

The medical instruments industry is a dynamic, fast-paced sector that hinges on the notion of innovation. “It takes very specific skills and knowledge to do what we are doing because we are not buying all our components from other people.”

The company’s 1.5T MRI scanner is fully designed, manufactured and sold by AllTech, a feat which many other major medical instrument manufacturers cannot claim. Since AllTech provides a holistic approach to the creation of its systems, the company is able to monitor the quality of design and aid clients in the use of the system throughout its life cycle.

Building MR systems from scratch has definite benefits in terms of quality control, but quite possibly the most important feature of AllTech’s design is in its advanced technology. “You have to have a very strong, very pure, magnetic field to be able to do what we do,” says Mr. Joliat. Magnetic technology is essentially what drives MR systems, and AllTech’s patented magnet technology is matched only by a handful of other major corporate suppliers.

“One of the big advantages we have, as an up-and-coming source of equipment, is that we have designed and built or own cryogenic magnet and, really, there are very few other people in the industry that have the capability to do that.” Several of the industry leaders – even companies much larger than AllTech – still do not have the magnet technology to match, and this fact continues to keep AllTech ahead of the curve in terms of innovation and product offering.

“Having this technology in-house gives you self-determination. You can control your cost and you’re not at the whim of a magnet provider who is also trying to sell magnets to your competition.”

The company maintains a large portion of the manufacturing processes, development and client care work in its Cleveland, Ohio headquarters. From Cleveland, AllTech works closely with its Chinese sister company to provide quality and affordable MR solutions to North American health care providers. The firm is committed to growth and development within the U.S. and it is this ideology which Mr. Joliat sees as an essential aspect of the company’s growth alongside larger multinational manufacturers.

Cleveland, Ohio is one of the original birth places for MR systems development and, since the early eighties, has remained an epicentre of development and manufacturing in the medical device industry. Mr. Zou and Mr. Joliat both began their MR systems work in Cleveland, as did many of the AllTech engineers.

AllTech’s strategic location has positioned the company to attract the industries’ most talented minds. “It’s quite a good environment to grow such a business – not that this is an easy business – but this is the best place to be for the industry that we are in.”

As a result of AllTech’s strategic positioning, the firm has “the best of the best” in terms of engineers and developers; the feature continues to drive the growing company’s success. “Out of the thirty-five people that I have employed here, we have twenty-five development engineers. And, between them, they have well over 450 years of MR systems experience.”

Since AllTech is located alongside the world’s largest medical instrument providers such as GE, Toshiba, Hitachi and Philips, the firm has the benefit of being able to access a large pool of experienced staff with a range of skills specific to the MR industry, Mr. Joliat explains. “We have people who have been doing this for a very long time. From software to hardware and other aspects, we have a wealth of experienced medical imaging professionals in this area – a lot of them in MR but also in CT and other modalities – in the greater Cleveland area.”

The majority of the employees at AllTech are industry experts who have been working in the MR and medical instrument field for decades. From electrical engineers to software engineers and even physicists, the company continues to attract highly experienced staff. Although experienced professionals are increasingly hard to come by within the industry, AllTech trumps competitors in terms of sector-specific knowledge.

In recent years, many of the major medical instrument providers have worked to cut costs by streamlining service departments. By cutting down on staff, bigger companies are able to lower costs, but must, in turn, train professionals across a variety of fields and equipment types. As a consequence, there are fewer field experts who are specialised in MR systems. AllTech, on the other hand, remains committed solely to MR systems and, as a result, the in-house experts are extremely knowledgeable as well as experienced, which benefits customers over the life cycle of their relationships with the company.

The most recent legislative health care reforms in the U.S. have reshaped the way providers operate, and medical imaging was a segment of the healthcare industry which took a major hit as a result of the reform. With the average age of MR machines in the market being twelve years old, many independent and privately owned healthcare providers have been forced to downsize, buy used equipment or close down completely.

One of AllTech’s major points of differentiation is its focus on creating quality MR systems at an affordable price, making the firm a top-choice for mid-size and smaller providers. “There’s a segment of the U.S. market that the major competition doesn’t do such a great job of addressing anymore: that is the independent imaging clinics and small hospitals. We are providing, within the U.S., a value play. These folks need a real, cost effective alternative to the big boys.” By creating an alternative to the price point dictated for years by the major providers, AllTech has responded to the needs of a specific segment of the market which has faced an uphill battle in terms of purchasing equipment.

Its ability to create MRI systems, from scratch, in-house, has enabled the company to monitor and control the proliferation of its services and the cost of its products. This advantage continues to distinguish AllTech as a top choice for mid-sized and private imaging companies.

“What we are offering these companies is new product value, at a price they can afford, which gives them future ability.” AllTech also plans to achieve new levels of magnet technology and to diversify into other areas in the future.

AllTech’s goal to become a global leader in MR technology is attainable and, despite the challenges of a market ruled by massive multinationals, the company continues to thrive. “We are building reputation on our relationships with people and on service.” The future growth of the company rests in its devotion to a personalised approach and a defined pledge to provide superior customer service. “We can’t just match the customer service of the competitors; we have to surpass it,” explains Mr. Joliat.

In the end, AllTech’s accomplishments are significant only if they result in satisfied clients: a mission that drives the company’s practice and ensures its future success.

August 21, 2017, 8:00 AM EDT

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