Chances are good you’ve heard of Raleigh’s Mako Medical and you’ve probably seen their shark-infested delivery fleet out and about. Now… meet Adam Price, the man behind the scenes—or sharks, rather. Adam, Mako’s Co-Founder and head of Logistics & Supply Chain, passionately impacts the community while redefining the healthcare experience for patients and providers. More on Adam in a minute.
Mako Medical provides medical laboratory and imaging services to doctors, urgent care facilities, and hospitals. Simply put – Mako Medical picks up those bodily fluids you “donate” to your doctor, which they process in their state-of-the-art laboratories and deliver the results to you the next day. The company has been recognized for its state-of-the-art instrumentation and next-generation sequencing for clinical trials and research, as well as their use of robotics. Their awards are endless and are proudly displayed throughout the company halls. They have been voted among the Best Places to Work in the Triangle and just made history by becoming the #1 Fastest-Growing Company for the third year in a row at the Triangle Business Journal’s Fast 50 awards.
O.K., now back to Adam. Adam manages the sharks and is the reason why 22,000 pickups per month have a whopping 99.9% pickup success rate and why you get your lab results the next day. Adam’s background in leadership, risk management and operations is derived from 10 years of his honorable service in the United States Army. And it turns out Adam’s active duty service as a Logistics Officer came in handy for the launch of Mako in 2014. Since then he has hired over 130 veterans and implemented his operational framework to cover 10 states and counting.
Adam can tell you where any and all of his 50 “shark drivers” (all veterans) are at any given moment. His operation directs them efficiently to and from their routes while monitoring traffic and weather through Mako’s logistics technology center, which by the way is freezing (mental note to send Adam a warm coat). For those of you worried, speedy lab results don’t equate to speeding drivers. Mako promotes safe driving by awarding bonuses based on driving metrics tracked on their platforms.
Mako Medical is more than just a financial success story. Mako is the real deal when it comes to community. It all started when Mako’s other two Co-Founders, Chad Price (Adam’s brother) and Josh Arant, met at Bible study. Chad had hit the wall after waiting for test results for his special-needs sister and Mako became a vision. They maxed out their credit cards and cleaned out their 401k accounts to go up against industry giants LabCorp and Quest Diagnostics. They declined to go the investor route because they wanted to run a company that was about the community and not just about the numbers. And they hit a home run. Mako proves you can have faith, spread kindness, give back, and still build a successful company.
Mako has donated millions in free medical services and supports 80 Christian missionaries and 472 local nonprofits and charities associated with veterans, the disabled, military service dogs, horses for those paralyzed, special needs children, cancer research, and homes for the blind to name a few. It isn’t just money, Mako employees spend countless hours volunteering and even built a deck for a veteran. Mikey the Mako, the company mascot, makes appearances at hospitals, clinics, parades, and charity events.
The day of this interview and before the polar plunge, Mako’s top salesperson had rounded up 150 blankets from a former Marine associate to distribute to the homeless in downtown Raleigh.
Mako also supports the veteran community by hiring only military veterans for many of their positions, including Adam’s logistics team. Adam successfully transitioned from Afghanistan to civilian life and he is committed to helping others do the same, which is why he is so excited about the MakoMynd study. Partnering with Mynd Analytics, the study is leveraging breakthroughs in diagnostics and treatment to help veterans with TBIs (traumatic brain injuries) and PTSD.
The saying goes that “God works in mysterious ways” and you have to wonder… if Mako Medical would exist today if… a disabled sister hadn’t been born into the Price family? If Chad Price had more patience with laboratory testing? If Adam ignored his call to the military to serve his country?
Learn more about Adam Price in our Q & A.
Q: It’s been quite a ride since Mako launched in 2014. Did you expect this kind of success so quickly?
We reached our five-year projections in terms of volume within the first year. Our goal when we started Mako was to really prove that you have tremendous success by making a positive impact in our community and by giving back. Being the fastest-growing company in the Triangle three years in a row, we are living proof that you can have explosive growth by doing business the right way.
Q: Mako chose to focus on giving back to the community and to support nonprofits, missionaries, and veterans as opposed to a more traditional route. I imagine shunning outside investment options drew a lot of criticism. Tell us more about that and what made you stay the course.
Starting a business is a lot of hard work, especially from the financial side. There were many of our team members that didn’t get paid for extended periods of time yet were still working 80-hour weeks, and volunteering on the weekends. When we started, we had three goals that we vowed to stay faithful to: 1) We are a Christian company; 2) We will make it a priority to hire veterans who have honorably served our country; and 3) We will give back to the community with our time, money and service. We will never forget why we started Mako, which is the reason it’s so easy to get out of bed every morning!
Q: What do you think the greatest challenge(s) is/are for startups in today’s Triangle startup environment?
Capital and securing lines of credit and loans through banks. It’s challenging to convince a bank to lend you the money and believe in your vision. Mix getting the financial backing while you are trying to build a business, recruit talent and grow, makes for a very challenging first couple of years for any new business.
Q: I truly want to thank you for your service to our country. It’s not always easy to transition back into civilian life. How did your military experience prepare you for Mako Medical?
The military does a great job of putting you in positions and having you figure it out with minimal training. Just like some leadership roles I held in the military, being one of the founders I had a huge responsibility in the role of a project manager to help get our building ready to begin operations. Working with contractors, vendors, and landlords wasn’t something I was well versed in. I had a high level of confidence in managing people and projects because I had similar roles in the Army. Being a convoy commander when I was in Afghanistan helped me understand the importance of building a good team. Over there a bad team member could cost you your life, and in the civilian world, it can cost your reputation, brand, customers, and business. Recruiting the best possible team is something I have been able to do at Mako, which has allowed for our growth and has allowed me to hire over 100 veterans since we have started.
Q: You are very committed in your support for veterans and employing them in your Logistics and Operations departments. What can you share with other employers in your community regarding this initiative?
Veterans are the epitome of loyalty, dedication and selfless service. Being in healthcare and responsible for 30,000 pickups every quarter, we understand that each pickup must be on time, every time. Having a great responsibility as we have, I rest easy knowing that I have veterans taking their roles very seriously. They know they are an integral part of our success and go above and beyond to make sure we accomplish our mission daily.
Q: I’m amazed at the over 400 charities that Mako supports. Which one(s) hold a special place for you personally?
The Tammy Lynn Center is a phenomenal organization that we are proud sponsors of. Among some of their services, they provide residential services that provide inclusive community living to individuals with disabilities. I have a sister with severe physical and mental disabilities. I know how difficult it is to find programs to support individuals with special needs. Tammy Lynn is the only organization I have ever encountered who have made it their passion to help individuals with special needs.
Q: Did you and your brother always envision working together?
No. Haha. Chad is a visionary and does not put boundaries on his ideas and goals, which is fun and infectious to be around. Although we don’t always see things the same way through a process standpoint, we continue to have great success working together because we stand fast in the reasons Mako is so important to us.
Q: Share something we might not know about you.
I am half British. My British mom married my Dad, who was in the Air Force. I was born in the UK and spent 16 years of my life there. It’s a big part of my life, the reason why I love hot tea, and explains my insatiable sweet tooth.
Q: If you could change something/anything (pie in the sky) what would you change?
I have both my M. Ed and undergrad degree in Education and taught adult special education prior to joining the military. Teachers, especially in North Carolina, are undervalued incredibly. I think we must reassess how we classify this profession. I think that it should be considerably more difficult to be a teacher and aligned similarly to the path of a doctor in terms of degree of difficulty, level of dedication required to finish the program, and intensity of the training. Changing the path to become a teacher would weed out teachers going through the program for the wrong reason or because it’s viewed as easy. The return for those who stayed the course should obviously be a healthy salary as well a level of prominence in our society. We as a society should also push more money into education. Investing in our educators who invest in our children will pay huge long-term dividends to our society and country.
Q: What gets you most excited about the future?
For Mako, it’s seeing what’s next. We have a lot of great things planned from rolling out a pharmacy program, to mobile imaging and other lines of business. Developing new innovations that will help people and continue to allow our business to grow and develop so we can sponsor more programs in our community and hire more Veterans is very exciting. Personally, it’s seeing my daughter grow and develop along with bringing our second child into this world later this year. Being a dad has been the coolest responsibility that I have ever been entrusted with.
Author’s note: I struggled to write this feature. I didn’t know how I could possibly communicate how special Mako Medical is and how important they are to our community. How could I do justice to a committed organization that helps hundreds of organizations, veterans, children, disabled, homeless, etc? This article scratches the surface of the human kindness and dedication of the amazing Mako employees. I encourage you to follow them, take notes, and follow their example. You can be a successful business and still be an amazing community supporter. Did I mention they are hiring?