Spectranetics looks to the military

Spectranetics’ Seal Team met this week for the company’s global mid-year sales meeting in Colorado Springs. The team members (from left) include Ryan Peterson, Aaron Graff, Kim Wolpert, Kim Bridges, CJ Thomas, Lee Ehlert and Marcus Scarborough.

Spectranetics’ Seal Team met this week for the company’s global mid-year sales meeting in Colorado Springs. The team members (from left) include Ryan Peterson, Aaron Graff, Kim Wolpert, Kim Bridges, CJ Thomas, Lee Ehlert and Marcus Scarborough.

Military officers possess self-discipline, a relentless demeanor and believe failure’s not an option. Because of that, a Colorado Springs firm has targeted and hired former officers for its sales force.

Spectranetics, which sells single-use medical devices to physicians worldwide, recently hired four young veterans to work in sales.

“We have identified these junior military officers as being members with leadership, discipline,” said Kim Wolpert, sales fellow regional manager for Spectranetics and a member of the U.S. Navy Active Reserves. “They’ve been in charge of people. They have all the traits we look for in a leader.”

The military “is a great source of talent,” said Spectranetics Chief Financial Officer Guy Childs. “The pool is large locally.”

During a hiring conference last spring, Spectranetics interviewed more than 300 people for five openings. Four of the openings were filled by military officers and one was a civilian, Wolpert said.

“We have a nuclear submarine officer, an Air Force officer and a specialist with explosive ordnance disposal,” Wolpert said, adding that the majority of the officers were involved in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

This is the first time the company targeted former military officers in the program initiated by Kim Bridges, senior vice president, sales and marketing, vascular intervention. Bridges said she has a history of similar hiring programs with other companies, so she introduced it at Spectranetics.

While some companies recruit former athletes, Spectranetics seeks junior military officers because of  the “experience they get in the military, the discipline, the training, the organization, leading teams in chaotic environments,” Bridges said.

“The fundamental training is foundational; that really shapes future leaders,” he added. “If you can teach junior military officers our products, they can be successful in a big way.” Skills junior military officers bring are different and more sought after than those skills brought by college graduates, she added. Furthermore, “It really is an opportunity to give back to those who serve our country.”

Also, members of the military are accustomed to moving a lot and are willing to relocate, she added. The training process takes six months, Bridges added, which “costs a little more on the front end, but it pays dividends in the end.”

The junior military officers hiring program intends to have about six people poised, trained and ready to move into a position that suddenly becomes vacant, she said. Previously, it took six months to fill a vacant position, but with this new recruiting program, the turnover is now 60 days.

When members of the sales staff leave, “you lose money when you don’t have coverage,” Wolpert said.

“We can put this person in for a seamless transition.” 

For Marcus Scarborough, “it was kind of fate for me” to end his job search at Spectranetics. 

When he was in the military, Scarborough worked in nuclear-powered submarines, and he said he was “pretty sure I was going to do something engineering-related, something technical,” he said.

At the hiring conference, during an employer panel discussion, Wolpert and others appealed to Scarborough because it wasn’t about engineering, he said.

“It was starkly the opposite of what the engineers were saying. The things that made someone successful at Spectranetics appealed to me,” Scarborough said.

He then said to his recruiter, “I don’t know what Spectranetics does, but I want to talk to them.”

An artillery fire support officer, CJ Thomas received a call from a professional recruiting firm as he neared the end of his four-year Army commitment. The recruiting firm invited Thomas to interview with up to eight companies, of which Spectranetics was not one.

“Then, just before an interview, they pulled me aside and told me about a brand-new program” and invited him to interview with Spectranetics, Thomas said.

After having talked with Wolpert and the director of human resources, “I decided I really wanted to pursue this opportunity,” he said.

At a second round of interviewing in Colorado Springs, Thomas was drawn to the “caring, genuine” people at the company.

“You could feel the camaraderie among everyone,” Thomas said. “As people come out of the military, that’s one thing they miss.

It’s really hard to make friendships,” outside the military after the service ends, he said.

Founded in 1984, Spectranetics sells and distributes single-use medical devices used in minimally invasive procedures in the cardiovascular system. They make products that treat arterial blockages in the legs and heart and remove cardiac pacemaker and defibrillator leads. They also make laser catheters.

The company’s products are sold in more than 65 countries. On June 30, Spectranetics acquired AngioScore, Inc., a leading developer, manufacturer and marketer of cardiovascular specialty balloons, for $230 million.