HealthLink’s Medical Device Logistics Business Poised to Grow

By Madeline Faber

A Netherlands-based medical device logistics company has moved into the Lamar Avenue corridor.

Rick Hughes, president and founding partner HealthLink & Europe International, said that proximity to FedEx was the deciding factor in the decision to base HealthLink’s North American operations in Memphis. 

(Daily News/Madeline Faber)

Building on proximity to FedEx Corp. and Memphis’ emerging biosciences hub, HealthLink Europe & International made Memphis its latest flagstaff operation.

The move brings four employees to manage warehousing and customer service, and HealthLink plans to hire three more employees.

The company specializes in medical device logistics, so it handles orthopedic sets, ear-nose-throat devices and gastrointestinal products and other surgical kits from manufacturer to health care provider.

“We’re the last people to touch a device before it goes into a patient,” said Robert Cole, client relations specialist at HealthLink.

HealthLink’s 32,000-square-foot warehouse is FDA-certified. The space at 3655 Knight Road is temperature-controlled, humidity controlled and tightly regulated to ensure that devices are packaged and processed safely.

The bulk of HealthLink’s North American operations will be handled through Memphis, as the company is now scaling down its original warehouse operation in Raleigh, N.C. By the end of July, five medical device manufacturers will be using HealthLink’s Memphis facility to store and ship products.

Globally, HealthLink has 100 employees and works with 120 medical device customers.

The company kicked off its North American presence in 2014 when it opened a 2,400-square-foot warehouse in Raleigh.

Sebastiaan de Kok, operations manager and quality officer, said that opening a flagship in Memphis was always part of a three- to five-year plan. When volume grew quicker than expected, HealthLink realized it needed to move up that target date.

“To get 30,000 square feet in Raleigh would have been three times the cost,” said Rick Hughes, president and founding partner of HealthLink. If needed, the company can expand its lease by an additional 118,000 square feet.

“Also, being a one mile away from FedEx is huge for us,” Hughes said. “We are now able to reach both coastlines overnight for next-day deliveries with excellent freight rates.”

The warehouse is minutes away from FedEx’s processing depot, which grants HealthLink late cut-off times.

With medical device shipping, HealthLink works under time-sensitive windows. That window will become more acute when HealthLink becomes certified to handle tissues and other biomaterials. That process takes about 18 months, and HealthLink will start pursuing accreditation when the Memphis warehouse is fully up and running. Further cold-storage capabilities will have to be added.

Mark Herbison, senior vice president of economic development with the Greater Memphis Chamber, said Memphis is well positioned to become a third-party medical device and biologistics hub.

“If you look at it, we’re going to continue to see this grow. We’ve got a FedEx hub, a large UPS hub and we’ve got this great shipping window, and a lot of the medical devices they ship are time sensitive,” Herbison said.

“We’ve got all the big companies like Smith & Nephew and Medtronic and Wright Medical that do that already. They do shipping like this, but just for their own orthopedic devices,” he said. “We don’t have a lot of companies, if any, that ship like HealthLink.”