Clinical Resources for Equipment Support Technology Services Inc (CREST Services), Lewisville, Tex, is a nationwide provider of medical equipment maintenance and asset management. In August 2004, 24×7 spoke with Brian Montgomery, CEO of CREST Services, about the 6-month absence he had to take from the helm of the company he created due to a medical scare. Four years after he was given just 6 months to live, 24×7 caught up with Montgomery—now in complete remission and sitting on top of a growing enterprise—to talk about his business, where it’s going, and what the industry is facing.
24×7: What has been happening with CREST since you last spoke with us?
Montgomery: Since I last talked with 24×7 in 2004, CREST has continued to experience a phenomenal growth, and has seen many changes. We have grown to service additional states, we have signed longer-term contracts based on stronger relationships, and most recently have established a strategic agreement with Siemens Medical Systems, one of the top three global manufacturer/service organizations. We have also added a COO position and implemented a national sales team.
24×7: What will your agreement with CTI, which formed in March, bring to CREST?
Montgomery: CTI produces training videos for biomedical and imaging professionals. We have worked with them to customize a training program for CREST. They assisted us in the development of a DVD-based employee orientation program to allow all new employees to get acquainted with CREST policies and procedures and complete the required safety and orientation courses prior to attending an on-site orientation at our home office. The CTI agreement works with the CREST training program by providing their entire library of DVD training material and online competency testing for all CREST employees.
24×7: What sets CREST apart from other businesses?
Montgomery: Our employees set CREST apart from other companies. From a customer perspective, we offer flexible, partnership-based solutions, medical equipment asset management solutions, program support services, consulting services, and effective sourcing alternatives. As an employee-oriented company—and that is where I take great pride—we have an internal Web-based employee communications center for all employee administrative functions with employee instant messaging, an extensive discussions forum, and Internet-based technical support. We are a stable and growing company with the flexibility of a private company, but the strength of a nationwide leader. And with all this, we can offer our employees tremendous growth opportunities both personally and professionally.
24×7: You have said that you take pride in the level of customer service your employees offer. What do you do to foster a helpful, friendly environment?
Montgomery: One of the key success factors for our continued growth is based on employee satisfaction. We truly feel that by treating our employees with the respect and professionalism they deserve, it ensures the customer is treated likewise. Our employees take pride in the service they provide, which is a reflection of the pride I have in each of them. They know the door to CREST leadership is always open and quickly realize we are truly an employee-oriented company.
24×7: In an earlier interview with 24×7, you said you have always relied heavily on word of mouth to advertise your company. Is it still your best way of letting people know about CREST?
Montgomery: It is still the best sales technique. In the last quarter of 2006, we formed an advisory board made up of successful and senior leaders from outside our industry. At the advice of our advisory board we created a formal sales team. Today, less than a year later, we are experiencing the results of this action with increased sales and signed contracts through September, and a “real” sales pipeline. We have also improved our sales support with more involvement from our corporate support team.
24×7: You took a 6-month leave a few years ago because of your health. How have you been feeling since then, and what’s the secret to your recovery?
Montgomery: In May 2003, I was diagnosed with a Stage 4 rare blood cancer. The following November, I had a successful bone marrow transplant, and as of today, I am in complete remission. Although never totally out of touch, I returned to full-time status at the end of 2004. There really was no secret except a positive attitude and a great support system, both of which I had—personally, medically, and professionally. I am extremely proud of the team who continued to manage and grow the business while I was out. Today, I am fully recovered and see tremendous growth potential for our future.
24×7: How has your illness changed your outlook on life and your business?
Montgomery: I recognize that every day is a blessing. Since my return, I have renewed energy and excitement about life and CREST. I believe you can have fun and enjoy your work as well. Time spent with my wife and two kids is not taken for granted, and I have learned to balance business and pleasure. Life is too short and should never be taken for granted.
24×7: What is in the future for CREST?
Montgomery: The future of CREST Services is brighter and more exciting than ever before. We hired a COO in May who brings strong business guidance from his experience in senior leadership positions in major companies. With our new COO, with the addition of a national sales team, and changes in our operational and support teams, we are on the move.
24×7: What do you think is in the future for the biomedical industry?
Montgomery: This is an interesting question, and one that CREST and others in our industry are facing. This industry has seen major trends every few years, and riding the waves has been intriguing. Today, we are seeing a decreasing trend in training enrollment for what we feel is a strong career field. However, many of the technical schools are struggling to maintain sufficient attendance, and with the lure of other industries, many of the more senior technicians are moving to other fields. The younger generation is unaware of what we do and how to establish a career within the biomedical service industry. In the upcoming months, CREST Services expects to build stronger relationships with technical schools and associations to increase awareness of this exciting field. In this way we feel we can be proactive in creating increased visibility and ensuring the proper skill level of training critical for this important industry.
This is an issue everyone in the biomedical world needs to band together and address—independent service organizations, in-house programs, and manufacturers. Together, we need to work toward increasing the awareness of our profession to the younger generations for the future success of our industry.
Zac Dillon is associate editor of 24×7. Contact him at .