Veteran-turned-businessman Daniel Shaw found a place for himself in the procurement industry. After years of serving the nation in the Navy, Shaw wanted to continue serving the people of this nation through healthcare. This is how Academy Medical, a certified Service-Disabled Veteran-Owned Small Business (SDVOSB) that helps companies provide cutting edge medical and surgical products to government medical facilities, was born.
In this interview, Shaw discusses his history with the navy, his transition into the world of procurement, and what is in store for Academy Medical.
Interviewology: Tell us a little about your background. What led you to join the military?
Daniel Shaw: I was born and raised in Mobile, Alabama. In 1991 I graduated from the US Naval Academy and was selected to be a Naval Aviator. I chose the Naval Academy because it was a challenge. I was told by a guidance counselor in early high school that I would never get there, and I set out to prove him wrong. I worked hard and stayed focused to show that someone from modest beginnings can not only get into the Naval Academy, but thrive in the competitive environment.
I completed flight training as a Navy Pilot and was deployed around the world in multiple military theaters.
I: How did your experience in the Navy form you as a businessman?
DS: In the military your seniors, peers, and subordinates must be able to trust what you’re saying. Lives depend on it. I firmly believe in honest, straightforward business relationships—“do what you say and say what you do.” That has been the cornerstone of our business approach.
I: What came after the Navy that led you to develop Academy Medical?
DS: I was hired straight out of the navy as a medical distributor. I was considered somewhat of an atypical hire at that time. However, I was hired by a West Point graduate, who later commented that he knew what he was getting. Since then, I formed a partnership and have developed and grew the business into its form today.
Daniel Shaw. Credit: Academy Medical
I: How important of a role does the procurement process and Academy Medical play in the healthcare industry?
DS: The government procurement process is, in many ways, a challenge for all companies, small or large. Today, the government is trying to streamline their procurement process – to become more like a commercial hospital system – with more contracting, better prices, and a smoother ordering mechanism. Many businesses often don’t have the expertise, resources, or even the patience to deal with the bureaucracy and systemic issues embedded in the government contracting process. This most often results in extremely lengthy wait times for products to see the market. Academy Medical is well positioned to help these companies navigate the contracting process– dramatically shortening product wait times which results in quicker access and revenue turns with emerging technologies.
I: Why was it important to you that the company be mostly led by veterans?
DS: Veterans have a strong work ethic and commitment to an overall larger goal. They can be counted on to wake up in the morning, think independently, set goals, and accomplish them. That is the fabric of Academy leadership, but the same goes for our mid and lower level personnel.
I: How does Academy Medical position itself with regard to the technological changes now taking place in the surgical implement manufacturing industry?
DS: Academy Medical’s goal is to provide the newest, most innovative products to help clinicians improve patient care. Our ability to help companies gain access to numerous government sales channels– often much faster than they could on their own– provides access to new products quickly. Our vendor partners know that we can help them get products on government contracts, and they come to us with any new innovations that would benefit the government medical community. The result is that clinicians can treat veterans, active military, and their families with the best treatment options available.
I: How does being a SDVOSB set Academy Medical apart from other procurement companies?
DS: We at Academy Medical are fiercely proud of being classified as an SDVOSB. We support veterans and work very hard every day to help provide the best possible health care to them and their families. VA statutory requirements place us at the pinnacle of VA purchasing preference, but we take a step further to provide value for that purchase. We work with both our vendor partners and government agencies to provide the best products (including new and innovative therapies) at the best possible prices. That value is then bundled with a technologically-centric platform, all the while streamlining the entire end-to-end procurement process.
I: What role does philanthropy play in your vision as a company?
DS: I strongly believe in giving back to the community, especially to those who have given their all to our country. I hope to continue supporting Veteran causes, and as Academy grows, play a larger role to help those in need.
I: What is the most fulfilling aspect about your job?
DS: At Academy, we’re problem solvers. I really enjoy creating win-win scenarios where our vendors and government partners alike see the value and benefit from their relationship with us.
I: What exciting things are in store for the future of Academy Medical?
DS: Academy has developed key partnerships and cutting-edge technology, specifically focused in the VA market. We’re very fortunate to be well-positioned to help solve several contractual, statutory, and logistic VA issues. Our technology and expertise also allows us to be extremely valuable in pursuit of other opportunities in other governmental markets.
I: How have recent changes in the healthcare industry effected the government process of procuring medical supplies?
DS: All governmental agencies, not only the DoD and VA are coming under more and more scrutiny with respect to their spending as it relates to the return on that spend. The VA and DoD are especially visible, as they treat our heroes, veterans, active military, and their families. As a result of the increased review of departmental spending, we are seeing both the VA and the DoD transition away from the “open market” platform and more towards contracting.
The rationale for using contracts is obvious– more visibility and better pricing. By increasing the utilization of contracting vehicles, the government medical procurement process can save time and money while not negatively impacting the quality of care. In addition, both agencies—especially the VA— are in the middle of attempting to modernize their supply chain and procurement practices to mirror what happens on the commercial side.
I: What does Academy Medical look for in the businesses the company partners with?
DS: First, we look for vendor partners that can manufacture and deliver innovative healthcare technologies to our Veteran community. Second, and just as important, is their ability to see the value of doing business in that space. Gone are the days of varied, arbitrary, and sometimes even inflated pricing. We work with our vendors and contracting to deliver consistent, competitive, and long-term national pricing. We then work together to shape that message and market that total value to the government buyers and users.
I: What is Academy’s advantage over other companies seeking to work with manufacturers?
DS: Academy medical offers more value than competitors in terms of agility, expertise, access points, and competitive platform. Our use of technology offers seamless integration while maximizing continuity and minimizing workflow disruptions.
We have extensive experience in sourcing government solicitations and troubleshooting procurement issues. In fact, Academy Medical fields account executives whose role is to ensure a trouble-free procurement process. Only Academy Medical has Flightline, our robust web-based electronic commerce platform that connects our manufacturing partners with the Government end users and enables real-time order processing and shipment tracking, resulting in a streamlined and traceable purchasing and shipping process.
Academy Medical has numerous contracting sales channels to offer ease of purchases in their appropriate technology and delivery space.
And finally, Academy Medical qualifies and is verified as a Service-Disabled Veteran-Owned Business. We are the VA’s first choice in the purchasing process, but are given priority in all governmental agencies as a preferred buying channel.