Sarasota Medical Products, Inc.
Dr. Walter Leise, CEO/President/CSO
Join Us! Florida Companies to Watch Awards Celebration
February 9, 2019
Straz Center for the Performing Arts, Tampa, FL
Reception, Dinner & Awards: 6:00 p.m. – 9:00 p.m.
Individual Ticket: $150.00 each | Corporate 10 pack $1,400.00
RSVP by January 7, 2019
Sarasota Medical Products, Inc is an industry leader in the development and supply of advanced hydrocolloids and similar medical devices. The SMP business model is based on quickly supplying effective and innovative materials to customers. SMP offers new material combinations with unique performance benefits to the medical industry, while providing the utmost in customer care and support. Founded by a group of medical industry veterans with a combined 60+ years experience, SMP offers the latest in medical solution concepts and is backed by a notable history of multidisciplinary expertise with a strong aptitude for technological development. We are an extremely diverse and “patient centric” team that strives to use every moment to develop and manufacture novel medical devices that are cost effective and of the highest quality. As a team, SMP wholeheartedly believes that our products empower patients to confidently manage their own lives.
The Grit to Gain a Competitive Edge Guides Sarasota Medical Products to Continued Growth
“I always dreamt of being a scientist,” said President, CSO, and CEO of Sarasota Medical Products, Dr. Walter Leise. “But as you grow you begin to take larger risks.” These risks eventually led Dr. Leise to founding his own company with his father, Walter Leise Jr, and Mr. Denis Keyes. “Both were instrumental technical assets that made SMP possible.”
Even though being an entrepreneur wasn’t always his end game, Dr. Leise gained self-confidence throughout his journey and hasn’t looked back.
“While I graduated high school, I was not the best student, so I joined the Army which built my confidence up tremendously. When I placed the first investment in SMP, I was already planning on leaving my current job to start my own business. SMP came up as an opportunity, and I knew this would be a great chance to lead a company, to do my own thing and grow.”
SMP develops and manufactures skin friendly adhesives that are custom designed to meet the features and benefits their customers’ wish to bring to patients. Quickly becoming a company to go to if you need a device with characteristics that differentiate products at a fixed price, SMP is an innovative leader in the technological development and manufacturing of wound care, ostomy and incontinence products.
Keeping a competitive edge
To keep a competitive edge above others in their market, SMP focuses heavily on both their customers’ needs and SMP’s ability to customize products, being the only custom developers in the United States.
“We’re very customer centric in terms of delivery, price point and quality,” Dr. Leise said. “Our biggest edge is our custom development. We have five standard adhesive formulations to choose from, but we also develop products that are directly and exclusively for you. If you want your own custom formulation, we develop the whole thing and you test it.”
On top of developing new products to remain main players in the market place, SMP also uses cutting edge manufacturing processes that keep them moving forward.
“We’ve developed a novel manufacturing process here that reduces our cost of manufacturing. Because of this, we’re able to provide price points to customers that give us, private brands, and distributers great margins. We understand the market we are in and we strive to do business as partners, sharing risk, sharing profits; which allows everyone else on the distribution channel to profitably grow.”
Dr. Leise explained that with these savings, SMP can develop more innovative products while keeping the costs low for customers and patients.
Looking toward the future, SMP’s growth will be driven by developing a direct to consumer brand of products that focus on novel antibacterial and proprietary formulations.
“Over the next few years, we’re going to easily double in size in terms of staff and revenue. Our future growth will be driven by new customer relationships and a global expansion of our platform,” he shared. “I’m the type of person who often says ’Sure, I’m happy with what’s been done today but what’s next for tomorrow? What’s the next big jump we can make?’”
Recognizing the team
Dr. Leise has created a strong work culture where he finds that leading by example is the best way. “We formed and grew based on our ability to accept change, to pivot, to go in new directions. I’m very driven in what I try to do and I expect my teammates to approach our work in the same way. That being said, I’ve been very lucky with all of my employees. We do the right thing, we get things done.”
His team, however, isn’t only limited to the walls of his business.
“This wouldn’t have happened without the help and support of my wife. I didn’t take any pay for the first five years or so and we were living on one income while I was trying to work from stock and grow the business,” he said. “She’s an inspiration. Without her, none of this would be possible.”
What it means to be a Florida Companies to Watch Honoree
“Well for me, I’m a little taken back. I’m truly honored,” Dr. Leise said about being a Florida Companies to Watch honoree.
Florida Companies to Watch recognizes second-stage companies that demonstrate high performance, growth and innovation in the market place.
He went on to say, “I know past winners and I know current winners, they’re friends of mine. It’s truly an honor to be in a group of hard working entrepreneurs, who are successful and give back to the community and do so much, it’s just amazing.”
Dr. Leise isn’t the only one relishing in all the excitement either. “For my employees, its validation of their hard work and sacrifice. We typically do a lot of overtime to get things done, and we have people who are all in to make things happen. People who would do anything for SMP to be successful,” he said. “So for them, its validation that we’re headed in the right direction, they have a stable future going forward and they feel that they’re part of something special.”
Advice for aspiring entrepreneurs
Whether it was in the military, starting his own business, or anywhere in between, Dr. Leise has surely learned what it means to work hard and be successful. However, for aspiring entrepreneurs that may be facing their own challenges, Dr. Leise shared a few words of advice.
“Fail fast and often, because failure is critical to learning, and accepting failure is absolutely critical to moving on. Things are going to go wrong, things aren’t going to be what you expect. You’re going to have to make decisions where you don’t know if you’re right or wrong and you’re going to make good and bad decisions, it just depends,” he said. “But accepting failure, learning from failure, and pivoting when you can, is critical.”
“I don’t think anything really prepares you to be an entrepreneur,” he laughed. “I think what really prepared me to be successful in what we’re doing was accepting failure. Being a research scientist, I failed all the time, almost weekly. However, I paid attention and applied what I learned from each failure, and I know that if you persevere and keep working you’re going to find a path forward.”
Notable community involvement
Sarasota Medical Products finds it important to give back to the community and does so in a multitude of ways. This includes leading a youth sports organization and inspiring and advising Florida’s upcoming talent in life sciences through the State College of Florida’s Biotech and Entrepreneur Advisory Committees. SMP also donates funds to the Christmas in the Park event each year hosted by the Sarasota Hope House.