Small business success stories: On-X Life Technologies

A revolutionary product with an international consumer base requires using a shipping company that takes charge, goes the extra mile and provides extremely reliable service. That's why On-X Life Technologies switched to FedEx.

On-X was founded by Jack Bokros, Ph.D., a materials engineer who pioneered the use of pyrolytic carbon for mechanical heart valves. Many of the valves on the market now are derived from his manufacturing methods, materials and designs, including the St. Jude Medical valve ― the most widely used mechanical valve in the world.

On-X Valve production started in California, then moved to Texas. Initially the product was approved for sale primarily in Europe. The valve received full pre-market approval from the FDA in March 2002, and today the company has 100 employees and ships to more than 80 countries worldwide.

Will Williams at On-X attributes the company's success to three key components: "Customer service, prompt shipping and the product itself." He credits prompt shipping with 50 percent of the success. Williams explains, "Surgeons replace valves daily and they don't know until the last minute exactly what size valve is needed in surgery, plus they may need another one the next day. So On-X needs to get its product out immediately — usually overnight. And if the product doesn't arrive on time, surgery can be delayed. That's why On-X promises next-day delivery." It's their point of differentiation.

On-X started out shipping primarily with UPS, using FedEx as a secondary resource for about 25 percent of its business. In 2009, they switched to FedEx as their primary shipper. "The FedEx sales team, as well as our two FedEx drivers, inspired me to switch," says Williams. The FedEx Inside Sales representative called every day and was willing to help, even though On-X wasn't shipping primarily with FedEx at the time. Plus, other FedEx account executives provided insight on how to ship internationally and how to help the company save time and money.

On-X was set up with FedEx Ship Manager® Software to help process their international shipments, as well as FedEx® Electronic Trade Documents. FedEx Electronic Trade Documents turned out to be a "huge life saver" for On-X. At about the time they were migrating to these two tools, their shipping manager left the company. But with the help of FedEx Electronic Trade Documents, the company was able to continue to process their international shipments, quickly and easily.

Since working with FedEx, On-X is no longer dealing with lost or damaged heart valves, which can cost up to $10,000. Not having to repair or replace these products has helped the company save a considerable amount of money and brought greater peace of mind.

Williams says "the willingness of FedEx to go above and beyond" is what convinced him to make FedEx their primary shipping provider. He recalled this story: One day, his afternoon driver, who comes every day at 5:30 p.m., noticed that On-X was still working on 20 more packages. So, he finished his route and circled back to pick up the remaining packages. And he's been doing that ever since.

It's that kind of attention to detail that prompted Williams to switch to FedEx. The company is expected to increase revenue by 20 percent over the next year, and FedEx will be right there to help. To learn more about On-X, go to www.onxlti.com.

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