A whopping 10,337 kilometers separate Mississauga, ON from Kobe, Japan, but for Sysmex Corporation, the cities feel almost like neighbors.
Since moving Canadian headquarters to Mississauga’s Airport Corporate Center in April 2015, the Japanese company has managed to grow global operations while keeping existing operations within an arm’s reach.
Carl Rocha, Sysmex Canada’s general business manager, has been with the company since its inception in 2008. Although Sysmex has existed in the country since the mid-1980s, Rocha says that the switch from a distributor to a direct business model has been hugely beneficial for the business and customers alike.
“Many companies in the past few years have looked at ways to relocate distribution either in the U.S or other parts outside of the country, whereas we’ve done the opposite,” Rocha explains. “We also take advantage of things that happen in the U.S environment that could benefit us, although we recognize the difference of the Canadian marketplace.”
Bryan Marshall, Marketing Manager of Sysmex Canada, says that an emphasis on Canadian business has proven to be advantageous.
“We really do try to cater specifically to our market here in Canada,” Marshall says. “Something that Carl has done very well in building our company is making sure that we maintain enough autonomy here so that we can put resources into places that are important for our customers.”
Sysmex specializes in hematology and urinalysis automated analyzers, reagents and IT services. Although the equipment is manufactured in Japan and the reagents in the U.S., the company saw huge potential in the Canadian marketplace.
That potential has since turned to reality: since 2008, the market share growth of Sysmex clinical hematology has grown significantly. Rocha anticipates that, by the end of the fiscal year, that percentage will be the clear market leader.
“It boils down to the quality of the products,” Rocha says. “If you talk to our customers,Sysmex has a reputation for quality in part due to our Japanese ownership. Our reputation for very high quality, reliable products and services, is seen through every relationship.”
It’s something Canadian customers can detect. Sysmex Canada’s equipment is used throughout the country’s ten provinces and three territories and has even seen the frontlines of National Defence.
As if that weren’t enough, Forbes recently ranked Sysmex Corporation #28 on its list of Most Innovative Companies.
“A large part of that is we’re early adopters of technologies to drive new ways of delivering services in our industry,” says Marshall.
Case in point: Sysmex was one of the first companies to pioneer webinars back in 2008.
“We saw a need for education and a decrease in resources to provide education to users of instrumentation,” Marshall recalls, explaining that hospitals and clinics would send their employees for training one at a time, which extended the process exponentially. “So we embraced webinars back then, and now it’s something that everybody does.”
Over the next eight years, Sysmex developed a new industry-leading practice of live, virtual instructor-led training (VILT).
“We can train everyone in the lab through virtual instructor-led training, no more train-the-trainer model with one person being trained by the manufacturer and then they have to train the rest of the lab,” Rocha explains. “You don’t actually have to take anyone out of the lab – they can stay in their lab and train virtually.”
Adds Marshall: “We don’t see anyone else doing it yet, but because it’s much more efficient, it’s something that we definitely anticipate over the course of time.”
Although the company has reaped the rewards of innovation, Rocha acknowledges that pioneering new technologies comes with its fair share of challenges.
“Initially, that was our biggest challenge: to get customers to buy into a virtual training world that they had never seen,” Rocha says. “Over time, as we started to gain customers, they started to believe because they could see the results of what we did.” Customer satisfaction is very high with this educational model.
The company also broke new ground with the implementation of its WAM middleware., Sysmex hematology products prioritize what Rocha calls “truly hands off” automation.
“Middleware allows for unbelievable analysis of the data that will help the lab become more efficient, more productive, reduce their amount of work and save time for other things,” he says. “A big part of our drive has been around creating efficiencies and productivity, beginning in the laboratory.”
This new technology will benefit the community labs, cancer centers, and acute-carehospitals that Sysmex has access to in Canada.
“The governmental administration here in Mississauga has made a number of efforts to bring everyone together in the life sciences industry and help make connections and growth,” Marshall says.
“Even outside of Mississauga, when I’ve been at other provincial and regional meetings, there seems to be excitement about Mississauga and turning it into a life sciences hub,” he adds. “I’m looking forward to Sysmex’s role in that and being a part of it.”
Amidst all this, Rocha says keeping in touch with headquarters has been easy.
“Over the years, several of our corporate managers have come up from Japan,” Rocha says. “Believe it or not, our Japanese chairman has visited at least four times in the eight years to celebrate different achievements.”
As for what the company has in store next, Rocha is careful not to divulge too much.
“Our plan is to not only grow in hematology, but in other areas of health care,” he says.
No matter what happens, Rocha’s philosophy will remain the same.
“Overall, it’s a combination of product, people and services, and our commitment to focusing on the customer,” he says. “You do those things – starting with the customer – and I think you’re more likely to succeed.”