As Executive VP of Sales since 1987, my role has greatly expanded from expertise in critical environment products to developing and promoting an entire line of diagnostic devices sold worldwide.
University of Maine
I treasure family time with my wife Elise, our two daughters, and our dog, Henry. We enjoy skiing in winter and cruising the beautiful coast of Maine in summer.
If you were explaining Puritan Medical Products to someone who is not familiar with the organization, how would you characterize its primary areas of expertise? Puritan Medical Products is an American company in its 100th year of operation. We are the world’s largest manufacturer of swabs and single-use sample collection devices. Puritan is well established yet small enough to maintain focus with a commitment to product development. We are staffed in all areas to help bring solutions to end users in healthcare, diagnostics, forensics, critical environments, and environmental specimen collection.
A fully integrated manufacturer, Puritan’s primary area of expertise is innovation. Our R&D team of engineers and technicians design and build production systems that move materials from incoming QC to the production floor to packaging to the warehouse. We design the systems that produce the products, whether they incorporate a component of wood, plastic, wire, fiber, foam, or flock—or a medium for specimen transport. Our sister company mills the wood to our exacting specifications and we acquire spun fiber in bales to card onsite, all in order to control the absorbency and performance of the finished specimen collection device.
Every step of our production process, from raw material to labeling, is closely monitored by QA personnel using tools that cutting-edge technology makes possible to assure that products are uniform and meet complex specifications. Puritan knows very well each product it manufactures, whether used for patient care, diagnostics, forensics, environmental sampling, or critical environment applications. Many of the materials and methods employed in our manufacturing process are proprietary.
What are the major categories of solutions that the company provides for the clinical lab? Collection swabs of various tip materials—cotton, polyester, rayon, flock, and calcium alginate; specimen transport media—traditional configurations as well as liquid and custom formulations for molecular testing; transport tubes—engineered and produced by Puritan to assure ease of use and specimen integrity; custom solutions—custom swabs, media fills, or combinations to deliver the specimen collection and transport device needed.
In addition, the trend of the expanding need for DNA specimens dictates that swabs used in that area must be free of cross-contamination and protected from inadvertent contamination at every step of production as well as in use and transport. Puritan is ISO 18385 compliant.
What should clinical lab directors know about Puritan’s customization capabilities? About the technology that lies behind your flock swabs? Puritan works closely with its customers to define the requirements of a collection device in order to develop a new product for specific applications. We can customize a swab handle with various sizes and breakpoints, offer various tip shapes and materials, and develop unique transport media to preserve or improve viability of a specimen during transport to the clinical laboratory.
Our patented HydraFlock and PurFlock Ultra swabs utilize a unique proprietary fiber and manufacturing process. These flock swabs offer superior collection and elution of specimens for more accurate and reliable results which outperform the standard nylon flock swabs historically supplied to the market.
What are trends in specimen collection that our readers should consider when making their own short- and long-term plans? With lab personnel retiring and fewer being trained as specialists, automated processing is bound to be the rule before long. Central labs will make this move economically viable and ease the crunch at the bench of smaller healthcare facilities. We are also seeing the steady march toward molecular assays in many areas. DNA/RNA assays will further distance the methods of diagnostics away from the traditional. Specimen collection and transport devices are evolving with this trend.
This year’s rough flu season underscored the importance of swabs and related products, and the need for lab personnel to use them properly. How does Puritan address this, particularly in the context of emerging infectious diseases? Puritan works closely with national manufacturers of rapid influenza diagnostic tests; many millions of the swabs Puritan produces are intended for use in many of these. As our established original equipment manufacturer (OEM) customers develop kits and instrumentation in response to rapidly emerging infectious diseases, Puritan will design the swabs that assure these novel methods perform as intended. As demand increases, so does our production. We are continually expanding our manufacturing capacity to ensure we meet some of these unprecedented demands, particularly for the flu season. Our marketing team provides blogs and infographics with “How-To” demonstrations of our products.
Puritan is a contract manufacturer to some major global diagnostics companies. What has enabled you to recruit and retain such customers? What kind of feedback to you get? Contract manufacturers—OEMs—have come to rely on Puritan for product development partnerships with fair pricing, quality, and reliable availability. They must have product to meet the demands of the market with unparalleled quality. Puritan understands these requirements. Add to that the guarantee of a personal connection with a dedicated staff member who is well versed in their requirements and responsive to their needs. We constantly hear Puritan delivers on all points.
What is new in your pipeline—or what might be coming in the near future? R & D projects are a constant at Puritan. In the near future, we will be introducing another proprietary flock specimen collection device ideal for the molecular market. Stay tuned for more innovative products.
There is some controversy in the industry on the question of coated-vs.-non coated flock swabs. Why does Puritan favor the latter? Since the swab is an invasive part of a kit, Puritan’s flock swabs perform well without the need to add a chemical coating for improved performance. Non-coated swabs provide purity of product, avoiding the likelihood of undesirable reactions that may skew results.
Your company has been around for a century, and has come a long way since its sole product was toothpicks! What is unique to Puritan’s culture, and how does this affect its customer relationships? Family – not just the commitment of the founding family that still owns and operates Puritan, but the family which is Puritan—is unique to our culture. Puritan is staffed by nearly 500 people, local to our production facility. Multiple generations of family members have called Puritan “home,” some for as long as 40 years.
The vision of the founders and the strength and determination of this Puritan family carry forward a sense of pride and commitment. That commitment helps us grow and helps us maintain a tradition of excellence.
Our customers know us for quality, consistency, outstanding customer service, and our commitment to helping them. It is what has helped us succeed as we approach our 100-year anniversary