Exactech works collaboratively to engineer innovative, intelligent solutions for surgeons

Exactech is a global medical device company that develops and markets orthopedic implant devices, related surgical instruments and its unique Active Intelligence platform of smart technologies to hospitals and physicians. Its products focus on arthroplasty solutions for the shoulder, foot and ankle, and knee and hip, hugely increasing patients’ mobility.

The company was founded in 1985 by orthopedic surgeon Bill Petty, MD, his wife, Betty, and biomedical engineer, Gary Miller, PhD, with a vision to make a difference in the quality of care provided to patients suffering from joint diseases like arthritis. Since the company’s inception, it has leveraged its founding principles to look at clinical challenges through the eyes of a surgeon.

Throughout the company’s development, its purpose has remained unchanged: Exactech exists to help improve patients’ quality of life and regain independence if they’ve been injured or developed arthritic disease.

Exactech started off with hip and knee implants and added the shoulder system in 2004, followed by its ankle line in 2017. “We’ve built a great team over the years, taking best practices from the process of designing our implants and translating these across the entire company,” begins Darin Johnson, Exactech’s President.

“We have a rich history and the foundations we established in our early years have paved the way for continued strong growth,” he elaborates. “We focus on innovative ideas, high quality products, education, and commitment to service. It’s all about focusing on surgeons’ needs and then working together to engineer innovative solutions.”

A new, exciting era began in 2018 when a merger with TPG Capital (TPG) was completed. TPG saw an opportunity to accelerate investment in a company with a strong cultural foundation, great people, and innovative product platforms to drive above-market growth.

“Before Covid-19, we delivered two years of double-digit growth,” Darin details. “During the pandemic, we built up the resilience and grit required to overcome adversity, and we’re excited to report that we are back on a double-digit trajectory in 2023, with what we anticipate will be a record year of sales.

“We create technology that truly makes a clinical difference and provide data-driven support for our claims, innovation and future predictive tools,” Darin explains. “At Exactech, we aim to be more nimble, responsive and accessible than larger competitors, drawing on our expertise, and leveraging our surgeon-founded DNA to engage medical practitioners on their level.”

Its company values include integrity, passion, teamwork, accountability, and innovation. Knowing the impact it has on people’s lives, Exactech is committed to delivering the highest quality standards. “We are driven to partner with surgeons, help patients and listen to unsolved challenges to better develop solutions that make a real difference,” Darin enthuses. “We operate with a culture of empowered individuals and groups who work together in ways that result in the highest levels of performance, delivering on our commitments and supporting our teammates.”

Chris Geyer, Senior Director of Operations at Exactech, agrees: “Unlike Darin, who has been with the business for 22 years, I’ve been with the company for just over a year. I was inspired by the intrinsic value of our products and the profound impact they have on patients’ lives.

“I personally experienced a life changing moment when I broke both my legs in a snowboarding accident, so I know first-hand the value of our products. My existing engineering mindset, combined with a life changing experience, resulted in me joining Exactech to help optimize it for double-digit growth. My aim is to anticipate the development cycle, as well as regulatory changes, to keep us ahead of the game.

“It goes without saying that quality is of paramount importance; it’s our key foundational priority,” Chris says. “We want our products to last for a long time with the same optimal performance. All our employees take pride in the difference we facilitate for patients. In fact, a handful of our employees have even been recipients of our products.”

Exactech is proud of its culture of innovation and consistently seeks out the unsolved challenges facing surgeons in the operating room. “We bring brilliant engineers and global thought-leading surgeons together around a table or in a cadaver lab, and we explore ‘how can we do this better?’ It becomes a dynamic and iterative process with lots of design, testing and repetition until the solution is polished and ready for the O.R. Usually, a new product will be in development between two and three years because these implants are incredibly sophisticated, need to last a long time and perform well for people of all walks of life.”

Chris then elaborates on the manufacturing process, and what it takes to bring together such high-level products. “Medical device manufacturing combines the strengths of manufacturing and engineering. With meticulous precision and unwavering attention to detail, these fields come together to produce life-changing innovations that have transformed healthcare. Manufacturing’s ability to scale production while maintaining stringent quality control ensures that critical medical devices, from pacemakers to diagnostic equipment, are reliably available to those in need. This industry harnesses the power of manufacturing to bring cutting-edge technologies from design blueprints to tangible reality, making a profound impact on global health.

“Manufacturing engineering, in particular, serves as the backbone of this sector, providing the expertise needed to bridge the gap between concept and creation. Professionals in this field optimize processes, design Lean production systems, and integrate advanced materials to ensure efficiency, cost-effectiveness, and compliance with regulatory standards. The collaborative efforts of manufacturing engineers, medical researchers, and clinicians result in devices that not only adhere to the highest safety standards but also push the boundaries of what is possible in diagnostics, treatment, and patient care. In the medical device manufacturing industry, the harmonious interplay between manufacturing and engineering results in innovative solutions that enhance and prolong lives around the world.”

With this in mind, the business has developed a breakthrough approach to computer-assisted surgery with ExactechGPS. The product provides dynamic intraoperative feedback in a compact and streamlined system within the sterile field. It has already demonstrated accuracy and precision, helping surgeons to achieve improved outcomes for patients.

Using the GPS navigation with Exactech’s Equinoxe Shoulder System, for example, is the only way a surgeon can see into the glenoid vault intra-operatively, which aids in the placement of the implants. Surgeons can now plan for humeral components with the latest update to the planning app, which connects with GPS in the operating room.

Such innovation is supported by significant investment into software applications and CNC machinery with enhanced efficiencies that support the manufacture of implants in-house.

Alongside innovation, the business is committed to protecting the environment and the health and safety of its employees, customers, and the communities it serves. “Globally, we strive to continuously manage the environmental impacts associated with our facilities, activities, services and products throughout their lifecycle,” continues Darin.

“Our facility planning, and growth strategy consider the efficient use of energy and materials, the sustainable use of renewable resources, the minimization of adverse environmental impacts, and the safe and responsible disposal of residual wastes. Exactech’s commitment to environmental stewardship drives us to continuously identify and act on opportunities to positively impact our footprint.”

In 2019, it opened the doors to a state-of-the-art, 67,000-square-foot building expansion of its corporate headquarters in Gainesville, Florida. Not only does the expansion boast a flexible and hospitable environment for employees and guests, but it also features environmentally friendly initiatives throughout, from LED lighting for energy conservation to sensors for water conservation.

“We designed the expansion to foster a culture of teamwork and collaboration, with open spaces rather than areas for separate teams,” Darin explains. “The real centerpiece of our site is the sophistication of our manufacturing equipment and processes. The production floor is visible from a mezzanine platform that comprises our office space, placing the product at the heart of our site, both physically and figuratively.”

Looking to the future, Darin shares Exactech’s five-year innovation roadmap, which it hopes will see it reach $500 million in sales by 2027.

“With our team of data scientists, we will increase our Active Intelligence offerings including the power of predictive analytics to more surgeons and patients,” Darin concludes. “It is a privilege that our work helps people, and we don’t take that for granted. Doing everything with the highest standards of quality is the expectation every day, all day.”