HPT Pharma

Leaving the safety net of a large organization to spin off a business is no small feat. But that’s exactly what happened in 2012 when President James M. “JM” Hasson acquired HPT Pharma along with 2 partners.

One of the first things they wanted to do was rapidly build a strategy for organic growth. In order to do this effectively, they needed to understand what made them unique in the market. In particular, they needed to understand their strengths, weaknesses and opportunities to grow. Understanding why customers chose them over competitors (and vice versa) was key to this strategy.

However, once they had the data and created a growth strategy, they couldn’t stop there. They had to identify how to maintain the strategy and make it part of the company DNA while still running the day-to-day operations of the small but growing organization. To make this challenge even more interesting, in 2013 HPT Pharma acquired Automotion Technologies. Along with implementing the initial growth plan, they now also needed to understand this new market, areas for growth and how this company fit into the big picture.

Starting with the Spinoff

The first step in creating the initial growth strategy was a plan—and that’s where DVIRC began this long-standing relationship. Key members of HPT Pharma attended DVIRC’s Developing a Strategic Plan for Growth program. That program helped them build out their strategic plan and vision and unearthed some gaps in their knowledge that they knew they needed to close before they could finalize the new strategy.

“HPT was building a growth strategy,” recalls DVIRC’s Director of Marketing Services, Chris Scafario. “They wanted to validate what they believed to be their organizational strengths, diagnose any weak points or threats from a market perspective, and identify opportunities. They were hungry for market perspective and eager to put their market insights to work in building their brand.”

They turned to the marketing and sales consulting services team at DVIRC to develop and conduct a Voice of Customer (VOC) primary research study that uncovered customer perceptions, obtained qualitative and quantitative data, challenged HPT Pharma’s understanding of the market and identified high-potential opportunities. In the end, the survey results validated HPT Pharma’s initial beliefs to a point, but they also identified other areas that had not been on the company’s radar before the survey.

“JM was particularly happy that we reached people he’d had a hard time getting a hold of,” says Sylvia Wower, DVIRC’s Director of Market and Economic Research and manager of the HPT survey effort. “We found that HPT Pharma was perceived as truly unique in their market and a tremendously valuable asset—even over larger players—because of their dedication to their customers and their expertise. This information helped to shape their go to market strategies.”

The results of the research have shaped the brand, product, marketing and sales strategies for the company. With DVIRC’s guidance the company went on to use the research to develop a new brand position, website and a focused lead generation program. Moreover, the research continues to be an important reference point when strategic decisions are being made.

“I constantly refer to the DVIRC study,” continued Hasson. “When we consider making significant business, or product development decisions or marketing strategies, I use the Voice of Customer report as an important component in the decision-making process. As we adjust our business practices now and in the future, we can go back to the same survey group to gauge our progress and uncover any opinion shifts that might impact longer-term opportunities.”

A New Line of Business

With an organic growth strategy in place that was firmly grounded in data, HPT Pharma was now ready to implement the plan—acting on their primary objectives and monitoring for success. Then, in 2013 they made an acquisition that allowed them to diversify their revenue stream and gain access into new markets.

“Having had successful relationships with DVIRC in the past, HPT Pharma re-engaged the marketing and sales consulting services team to support their efforts in defining the potential of this new market, what they could expect from it, where they could look to broaden the market and boost sales and what it meant to the company overall” said Scafario.

The goal of this new project was to define the potential of this new market. The question on the table was this: should HPT Pharma take this product and try to apply and sell it to other markets or create their position as an industry leader within the existing market and translate that approach into new opportunities. Through a discovery meeting, DVIRC scoped out a project that identified 3 specific surveys for 3 specific markets. Then the DVIRC team went to work to understand the landscape.

“We acquired Automation Technologies, an automated equipment manufacturer that served a niche market” said Hasson “it was difficult to obtain relevant market data on our own so we engaged the DVIRC to do that and they gave us a combination of primary data and research using tools that we don’t have access to. Through that, they delivered to us a detailed market analysis that we are now using to steer the business in ways we think new opportunities will emerge.”

The results of the surveys and research uncovered growth trends in the automated pharmacy market and actionable insights that HPT Pharma could use to expand their current base of customers. As a result of the project HPT Pharma learned that there were numerous opportunities in the current market for existing and new products.

Pulling it All Together for Maximum Impact

As a small company always looking for pragmatic areas of growth, HPT Pharma is focused on where they can make a significant impact on their ability to serve their customers, expand their offerings and become a more relevant company in the industries they serve.

In 2015 they recognized that they could use a fresh perspective to help keep their strategic plan moving in a timely and efficient manner.

“We found, like a lot of businesses find, that once you have the plan, the execution of the plan and the ability to stick with it on a regular basis in the midst of day-to-day requirements can become very challenging” said Hasson. So they engaged DVIRC’s Business Solutions Advisor Harold Floyd. “We engaged Harold to help keep us on track, challenge the plan that we have in place and encourage us to make sure everything that we’re doing is relevant.”

Harold meets with the HPT Pharma team routinely to enforce the plan, do, check, act methodology. The team reviews the plans and progress, discusses issues blocking execution of the plan, identifies approaches that aren’t working and adjusts the plan as needed to keep them on track. This approach allows them to adjust and correct much sooner than they would have if they had not dedicated so much rigor to review.

“HPT Pharma realized that they needed to work at these plans on a steady basis, stay focused on the plan even when they were busy with their day to day jobs, keep a regular watch on the impact of the plan to verify that they were on the right track and make the necessary adjustments when things weren’t working” said Floyd.

This engagement has not only done all of these things, it has created something that they couldn’t foresee. The number of people involved in the annual goals within the company has increased dramatically. By working through their annual goals regularly, the HPT Pharma team now assigns certain goals to people within the organization who may not have directly participated in the development and execution of the plan in the past. This has led to increased transparency throughout the business regarding where they’re going and how they intend to get there. HPT has experienced a huge organizational benefit by improving the overall awareness of the plan and the contributions of people within the company to execute the plan.

According to JM, DVIRC is along for their growth journey and whenever the company faces a challenge, DVIRC has a relevant solution or can point them in the direction of someone who can help. Because DVIRC caters to businesses like HPT Pharma, when they need someone who can supplement their organizational limitations DVIRC brings in individuals with real world experience who can get results that they either couldn’t get on their own or that would take them much longer to discover had the research and consulting not been there.

Scafario explains it like this “By using DVIRC as an outsourced partner, the cost savings for organizations like HPT Pharma can be significant. Instead of going down wrong roads that could take years to discover (and burning manpower in the process) it can take just weeks to gain the knowledge that you may not have known to even look for.”

Looking Back at 2012 and the Impact it’s had on the Future

The original voice of the customer research done shortly after the spinoff by DVIRC allowed HPT Pharma to talk to customers that they hadn’t been able to reach and analyze the data in a truly meaningful way to the business. It showed them strengths and weaknesses that they hadn’t considered. And, it paved the way for their revised market position and go to market strategy and tactics.

Hasson remembers, “The Voice of Customer study that DVIRC delivered was a profound, fundamental stepping stone in terms of how we approached our brand, marketing, and ultimately grew and grow the business. It identified the things we do well—in addition to what we need to improve—based on actual feedback from customers. It was an honest look at our performance from our customers’ perspective. As for prospect-specific information, we learned more about our brand perception in the marketplace and found an area of weakness among competitors.”

Understanding the New Players and Opening Up Doors

When HPT Pharma needed to learn about the market for the company they acquired, DVIRC not only answered the key questions presented to them around their go to market strategy–they unearthed new findings and a clear understanding of the Pharmacy Automation market including market size and growth potential, competition and substitute products, market segmentation (Integrators / Fulfillment), decision makers and purchasing patterns. As a result of this research:

  • HPT Pharma has a path to market for their new division, Automation Technologies
  • Automation Technologies has gained $400,000 of new business and two new customers from this research.
  • DVIRC uncovered 2-3 new distribution agents for the product line. HPT Pharma has reached out to these channels and provided proposals, which are being reviewed with the new agents.
  • DVIRC narrowed down a large list of integrators and fulfilment houses to a targeted group best suited for relationships with HPT Pharma’s target industries.
  • The research verified that the market is growing and that the expenditure of development money was a sound plan for the long-term. HPT Pharma is now looking at developing enhanced equipment to better serve their marketplace, such as reducing the size and functions of the machine to better serve nursing homes and hospitals. This was new information that they hadn’t understood prior to the project.

Staying on Track and Getting Everyone Behind the Mission

JM believes there is a much greater sense of accountability within HPT. The regular strategy meetings with Harold have allowed the team to identify issues and adjust the strategy plans much faster than they had in the past. Also, with all of the new people participating in the strategy there’s a greater transparency and clarity in the organization.

JM sees that “People are embracing the fact that they have a more meaningful impact in the business. We anticipate this becoming a cost savings for the company.” Down the road he expects this to lead to cost savings and employee retention.

JM summarizes the results of the partnership best. “We keep going back because we find DVIRC to be a valuable resource. They don’t just deliver advice, they engage at a level where they participate in the execution as well. Plus, they bring relevant real world experience. Their solutions are reasonable for a company of our size and they offer insights that are truly helpful. They just get it.”

Other services DVIRC delivered

  • HPT website development
  • Automation Technologies website development
  • Quarterly news letters
  • Innovation boot camp
  • DSPG – strategic plan training
  • Lead generation for HPT

HPT Pharma, LLC is a recognized leader in the design, development and manufacture of special purpose machines for the packaging of oral solids in the pharmaceutical and pharmacy markets. Our mission is to provide innovative, timely and cost-effective packaging equipment solutions that insure the compliant delivery of medications. We strive to become the preferred and most trusted partner for North American pharmaceutical and pharmacy packaging organizations through innovation and a commitment to our employees & customers. To learn more, visit  HPT Pharma online.

“I constantly refer to the DVIRC study. When we consider making significant business, or product development decisions or marketing strategies, I use the Voice of Customer report as an important component in the decision-making process. As we adjust our business practices now and in the future, we can go back to the same survey group to gauge our progress and uncover any opinion shifts that might impact longer-term opportunities.””
James M. “JM” Hasson
HPT Pharma