Strategic Planning for Small Companies

Edition: March 2002 - Vol 10 Number 03
Article#: 1179
Author: Repertoire

Short-term thinking rarely adds up to long-term success. Yet given the pressures we face every day, it's hard to look beyond the next bump in the road. IMDA's upcoming Annual Management Conference, ''Strategic Planning for Specialty Sales and Marketing Organizations,'' will try to help small specialty distributors and rep firms take the long view in running their businesses. The conference will be held in Tucson, AZ, June 19-23. The chief facilitator will be Ron Stephenson, professor of marketing at Indiana University.

During the conference (June 20), IMDA will sponsor its annual Manufacturers Forum, in which manufacturers of innovative medical technologies have a chance to discuss opportunities with specialty distributors and reps.

Among the topics to be discussed are:
•        What is strategic planning, and why should the specialty sales and marketing company worry about it? Some things to think about: What are my financial goals and drivers? What are my specific goals (for example, territory, product mix, etc.)? What specific tactics can I employ to achieve my plan? What major industry issues are likely to affect my plan? How will I finance my plan?

•        Should my family-owned firm have an outside board of directors? Joining IMDA members at the conference will be Jeff Beischel, CEO of The Brewer Company, a family-owned manufacturer of medical furniture in Menomonee Falls, WI. Beischel is a non-family member who, together with an outside board of directors, runs the company. He'll talk about his experiences in this position.

•        How can I tap into the planning experience of executives and business owners outside the medical specialty distribution business? One answer is TEC International (, an organization for CEOs founded in 1957. Every month, small TEC groups – comprising individuals from different industries -- gather to compare notes about how they're running their businesses. A representative from TEC will be on hand to talk about how the organization acts as an ''informal board of directors'' for companies.

•        Am I prepared to handle the unexpected? Fire? A lawsuit? The loss of my No. 1 vendor? Defection by my top sales reps? IMDA Legal Counsel Mitchell Kramer will lead a panel of IMDA members sharing how they turned adversity into opportunity.

Continuing a tradition begun at last summer's Annual Conference, IMDA members will have an opportunity to meet with others in their specialties, to talk about common concerns and opportunities.

Manufacturers Forum Manufacturers of innovative medical devices will be invited to exhibit their products at the Manufacturers Forum, scheduled for 5 to 7 p.m., Thursday, June 20. Manufacturers who exhibit at the Forum will be welcome at most Conference sessions. ''We think manufacturers have as much to learn as we do about strategic planning,'' says IMDA President Richard Manley of Arlington, TX-based CVC. ''And we've found that the interaction among our members and manufacturers at the educational sessions is invaluable.''

The Conference will be held at the Omni Tucson National Resort and Spa. Call IMDA headquarters at (800) 398-5632 for more information, or visit the organization's website at