Howard Wright is a leading specialist in the design, manufacture and distribution of medical beds and stretchers. This has been achieved by staying true to their simple purpose of “making human care easier” and a philosophy of continuous improvement.
In the last year, that philosophy has guided Howard Wright into achieving an ISO 13485 accreditation, a significant upgrade from the ISO 9001 accreditation they once possessed. “That’s a pretty big deal,” says CEO Bruce Moller. “ISO 13485 has taken our quality assurance to a world class level; we’re delighted with achieving this standard.”
That philosophy has also led to the recent introduction of the M9 Ward Bed, another significant upgrade from their previous M7 model. The M9 Ward bed features a unique, easy to clean and elegant design, as well as a low height of 350 millimetres, which makes patient entry and exit safer and easier. According to Moller, the M9 is straightforward and practical to use, requiring only minimal servicing and user training. It has fully electric functions and a sliding backrest to reduce patient handling. The bed deck has multiple sockets for accessories and storage for handset, attendant control panel and power cord.
Finally, the last year has seen Howard Wright introduce independent testing for all their products – another result of the company’s commitment to continuous improvement in all activities. “We’re able to self-certify but we’ve gone to independent testing as well to give greater reassurance to our customers,” Moller explains. To provide that greater reassurance, they utilise The Underwriters Laboratories, a United States-based product safety certification organisation that is internationally renowned.
Moller, who first got involved in 1991, was originally attracted to Howard Wright for its broad capabilities. Not only do they design and develop their own products, he explains, they also do the marketing, sales, and distribution. “It’s a complete package, and it was exciting to be involved in a business that had all those aspects under one roof, so to speak,” he says.
Also, though the business was small in size, its reputation was significant. Moller was excited about growing both.
That “complete package” is one way Howard Wright sets itself apart in the marketplace. Another way is its locality. Howard Wright is an Australasian business, with manufacturing based in New Zealand and Australia comprising two-thirds of their business. “We enjoy the diversity of working in the two countries, and we think from working in those markets we end up with a great result for the whole of the region,” Moller explains.
Almost all of Howard Wright’s competitors are major international companies, Moller explains. “We feel being based here, our R&D being based here, and working with clinicians in this part of the world is a very key advantage for us,” he says. “We end up providing the solutions that are applicable to the way we deliver healthcare here. Rather than trying to make a predetermined product fit our customers’ methodologies, we’re actually designing products for their needs.”
“We feel that’s important, and we feel it enables us to deliver on our purpose for business, which is to make human care easier,” he adds. “That’s very much our focus all the time – ‘Are we making things easier for the people who use our products, from patients through to clinicians to people who have to clean the product or move the product?’”
Every step of the way, Howard Wright seeks to ensure they are delivering on that purpose. According to Moller, the Australian andNew Zealandmarkets have really responded to that approach. “We’re very much about keeping that going, and keeping the aspects of the business local toAustralasia,” he says.
Yet another way Howard Wright stands apart is their three overriding design values that guide all of their creations: Simple, Smart and Human. “Those values have held true from the beginning of the business to today,” Moller says. “Every design we do, and every way in which we interact with our customers has to be simple, which means practical and straightforward.”
“It also has to be smart, and that means we have to deliver our solutions in an elegant way as well as a clever way,” he adds. “And human is very much about empathy, and ensuring that human factor doesn’t get lost. It should be almost intuitive for people to interact with both the company and our products.”
“Our purpose is to make human care easier, our values are simple, smart and human, and our brand intent is Howard Wright Cares – which is a summation of all of those things.”
Howard Wright Cares
Overall, Howard Wright employs just over 40 people. Moller believes what attracts staff to the company – both inAustraliaandNew Zealand– are the same things that attract their customers. “I think we’ve got a really nice atmosphere,” he says. “There’s a lot of teamwork, and people help each other out.” At Howard Wright, the goal of their corporate culture is to create a team spirit and team goals, which has proven to be very effective.
Another goal of their corporate culture is to pursue environmental sustainability in all of their operations and product designs. As a result, their facility has been recognised for its environmentally sensitive design with a regional award from the New Zealand Institute of Architects as well as a national gold reserve award from the Register Master Builders Federation. On the whole, the company is also very conscious of recyclability, and their products – largely steel, aluminium and plastic – are designed to conform to that vision.
Moving forward, Moller describes the company’s goal as continuing to expand that vision alongside the company itself, particularly inAustralia. “That’s definitely a major part of our business, and we still see there’s opportunity for us to increase our penetration in that market,” he says. At the same time, they are also looking northward, and exploring opportunities in Southeast Asia, Europe, the Middle East andNortheast Africa.
Internally, Howard Wright’s aim is to double the size of their business every five years. That is a goal they are always working toward actively, and they have achieved it consistently so far. Because they are a small company competing with big ones, that type of focus is important. What they do, they have to do very well.
“That’s our strategy,” Moller concludes. “Keep our product range narrow; be world class in what we do; build the business in Australasia; and then build the business beyond that when the time is right.”