Eric Astoin, Ph.D.
Technical Manager, Exactech (UK) Ltd
Q: How long have you been with Exactech ?
A: It has now been just over 6 years. I started to work with The Exactech Product range as a product manager in November 2001, I became an employee with Exactech UK when we set up the direct operation in October 2005.
Q: What is your experience in Orthopaedics?
A: I started to work in orthopaedics as an engineer in the R&D department for a French company called Orthotechnique. I learned a lot about the challenges of new designs, and gained valuable experience in hip and knee arthroplasty. I later became the R&D Manager where I became more involved in promotion and marketing.
Q: What is the difference with working in a subsidiary organisation ?
A: On a personal level, it has been a fantastic challenge to be part of the team setting up a new subsidiary. It makes you see different aspects of the business and ultimately, it makes you understand the whole operation better.
On the business side, it allows us to have a lot more focus on our customers. It also brings us much closer to Exactech Inc. We now have access to all their internal resources and we can offer a much wider product range to our customers. It also makes it a lot easier in terms of brand recognition.
Q: What is the Exactech product range today in the UK?
A: Today in our portfolio is the Optetrak® Knee System, which includes cruciate sparing and sacrificing primary options, a complete revision, a unicompartmental, a rotating platform and a range of instrumentation options, including a low profile that can accommodate a smaller incision.
We offer the Equinoxe® Shoulder System, which is made of an anatomically designed fracture stem, a unique primary option for total shoulder replacement and a recently released reverse articulation prosthesis.
Finally, we have the M-series modular Revision Hip System and a range of bone grafting materials, including Opteform and Optefil which are made from Demineralised Bone Matrix.
Q: How does a wider product portfolio improve things in the UK?
A: For me personally, it means there are more products available to support our customers, which gives variability and is exciting to have. For example the Equinoxe® Shoulder System was made available in the UK two years ago and I have enjoyed developing my knowledge and experience with it. I think it is very important to keep learning and challenging yourself.
For Exactech UK, it has been great to diversify from the Optetrak Knee. We can offer synergy to our customers, for example the bone substitutes are available for when revisions are performed. It has also allowed Exactech UK to grow more rapidly. Last year we increased our head count by 50% and we will be making further appointments this year. We are also extending our office facilities to accommodate the growth and to support the increased product range.
Q: How does Exactech position itself in the market today?
A: It has been challenging because we are competing against large global companies that have been established for a long time, but we are focusing on offering a more consistent and personalised support, where service is a face rather than being a procedure. I also know that our products are of great quality and that they make a huge difference to the patient outcomes. We have the confidence and backing of Exactech Inc where they have the resources and the will to keep at the front end of new ideas and development.
Q: With new products, what will be your focus this year?
A: The Equinoxe Reverse Shoulder was launched at the end of last year, and it will be very much one of our main focuses for this year, Exactech are also working on a resurfacing option to complete our Shoulder range.
On the knee side, we will focus on the uni-compartmental and the revision system.
Q: How do you see the future for Exactech?
A: I am very much looking forward to it. Exactech are now a well established brand in the UK and more and more customers are prepared to evaluate and convert over to our product range. We need to keep the values of loyalty and proximity to our customers that have made our success and I hope we can become a widely recognised company and continue to be a great company to work with.