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BY PATRICK PETERSON

Local

DAVID Takes On Medical Imaging

GOLIATHS

Value and Service Help Sanford’s Omega Medical Imaging Slay the Competition

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hen a customer wants to modify one of his or her medical imaging machines, salespeople for Omega Medical Imaging don’t have to call anyone in China; everything’s done in Sanford, Fla. “A hospital will ask, ‘Can you do this? Can you do that?” Omega President Brian Fleming said. “Yes, we can do that, and we can do it a lot cheaper.” Fleming and two partners bought the company in 2010 and have grown sales 54 percent. As the U.S. economy shows signs of a slow but steady recovery, sales have suddenly risen this year. “We just got slammed with orders,” said Fleming, who last year sold 18 machines that retail for at least $500,000 each. “We’re on a hiring binge. Everything is assembled here in Florida. We’re really the only U.S. based competitor.” Omega Medical Imaging builds a machine that merges 100-year-old X-ray technology with the latest software and computer imaging technology. Using a weak X-ray beam, the fluoroscope provides an image of what is happening inside a patient’s body. The device is used by cardiologists to monitor the heart while looking for blockages, and by endoscopic doctors who monitor the digestive tract while probing with cameras.

Beating the Competition

An impressive list of hospitals uses the device: Johns Hopkins, the University of Washington Medical Center, Barnes Jewish Hospital, University of Colorado Hospital, Emory Healthcare and Massachusetts General Hospital. The list also includes Florida Hospital in Orlando, which has been happy with the device from Omega and hopes to work with the company to develop the next generation of the technology. “We’re very pleased with it,” Scott Bond, director of the Florida Hospital Center for Interventional Endoscopy, said. An exclusive feature is a C-arm that swings away from the table allowing greater access to the patient, which no other device offers. Endoscopy patients often have restricted mobility, so making it easier for them to move into place is important. “That’s a huge benefit,” Bond stated. Omega Medical offers several features that make its machines better than the competition. “It has great image quality and, compared to other competitors, it has a wider table and a higher capacity for weight. That’s been great,” Bond added. The machine is also safer to operate than its competitors’. “They have a lower dosage rate for radiation exposure, so

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Brian Fleming, Omega Medical Imaging President

obviously that’s good for our staff in the room,” Bond added. Florida Hospital is expanding its research role, and they hope to work with Omega to advance the fluoroscope technology. “We have the ability to meet with their engineers on a much more frequent basis,” Bond said. “We’re already in discussions with them to talk about what’s next. They are going to be looking at 3-D and some other technology. We want to work in collaboration with them to develop new technologies.” The company has been willing to send employees to Florida Hospital for training sessions, so

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the proximity has been a great benefit. “It’s easier for them to pop over,” Bond said. “Across the board, it’s great to have them in our own backyard.”

Venture & Acquisition

Fleming acquired the company with his partners in the Venture Management Group, Skip Hauser and Kim Brown of Melbourne. They believe Omega Medical Imaging can reach $50 million in annual sales over the next five years. VMG is a startup and acquisition firm that provides behind-thescenes business advice, startup capital, along with bonding

plans, and is on the lookout for other companies that are ripe for investment, Fleming said. Fleming, who has worked in the biotech medical field for nearly a quarter century, kept his eye on Omega Medical Imaging, formed in 1990, as a company with potential to grow. The elimination of photographic film and the introduction of digital images to the fluoroscope made the device able to produce images that could be recorded and transferred digitally anywhere in the world. Lower powered X-rays and more sensitive receiving sensors also made the machines safer, reducing


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Three-dimensional fluoroscope images are one factor that will help Omega move into new markets.

X-ray exposure to both patients and medical staff. “I’d been trying to get Omega for years,” Fleming said, adding, “Here’s this great company building very reliable, high-end cardiac cath-labs.” The small Sanford company, with 15 employees, found itself competing against industry giants such as GE, Siemens and Toshiba. But the smaller company had an edge; they offered their customers customized equipment that is dependable and easier to operate.

Finding the Niche

“We try to focus on a niche and refine our product offerings,” Fleming explained. “We’re up against the big guys and everyone’s always pushing the envelope. It gets more and more cutthroat everyday.”

Their larger competitors might build a machine that has more bells and whistles, but evaluations show that Omega’s machines are a better bargain when a customer considers price, service, room preparation and longevity. “We are always at least half as expensive,” Fleming said. He added that Ohio State University Medical Center saved millions of dollars by using Omega’s durable machines, which last eight to twelve years. “Our systems tend to not wear out because they’re overbuilt,” Fleming said, meaning they are designed to handle higher loads than they receive during normal operation. Three-dimensional fluoroscope images are one factor that will help Omega move into new markets. In addition, the chassis

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of their machine is able to accept new sensors, a feature that allows customers to upgrade their devices, rather than spend tens of thousands on a new machine. “There are a whole lot of technologies on the horizon that will provide growth,” Fleming said. “We bought this business to grow it significantly.” Omega Imaging has focused 90 to 95 percent of its effort in the U.S., making most of its sales in heavy populated areas along the east and west coasts. Before the company begins expanding overseas, they are focusing on the market right here in Florida. “There’s plenty of opportunity in Florida,” Fleming concluded. “But most people don’t know about us.” At least not yet! u

Omega Medical Imaging Established: 1990 President: Brian Fleming Location: Sanford, Fla. Telephone: (407) 323-9400 Website: OmegaMedicalImaging.com Images produced by Omega Medical’s Technology

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Local David Takes On Medical Imaging Goliaths  

Value and Service Help Sanford’s Omega Medical Imaging Slay the Competition

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