Hostage Situation in China…….YOU Might Want to Pay Attention.

Charles StarnesI have been reading, with interest, about the hostage situation in China.  An American held hostage by a group of employees……turns out, pointed out by a dear friend of mine, that  a diabetes company is included.

With all of the discussions surround newly orchestrated competitive bidding for diabetes supplies, will this type of situation have more impact than we could have ever thought possible should our suppliers come down to only a precious few based merely on the cost?

Chip Starnes is President and CEO of Specialty Medical Supplies.  Looking at their website you will read:
Specialty Medical Supplies (SMS) understands global business. Established in 1999, SMS is a privately held manufacturer of disposable medical supplies. While they are proud to call Broward County home with their corporate offices, warehousing and distribution facilities located in Coral Springs, Florida, they manufacture their products in Huairou, China. But their global impact doesn’t stop there. They have representation in 22 countries throughout the world including Brazil, Germany, United Arab Emirates and India, just to name a few.

SMS is today one of the leading manufactures of disposable diabetes medical supplies in the world. They currently manufacture, assemble and package well over 15 different lines out of their facility. Some of these products include: Safety Retractable Single Use Bulls eye™ Blood Lancets , Regular Blood Lancets, Lancing Devices; Safety Let Lancets™ & Lancing Devices; & Alcohol Prep Pads & Swabs. They supply all major distribution channels including Retail, Direct to Consumer, Wholesale & Institutional Markets. Over 80% of all SMS products are sold and distributed under private label branding.

SMS employs 17 people in Broward County but many more worldwide. In their 100,000 square ft. manufacturing facility in China they employ over 500 people. 

Now it turns out that, according to ABC reports:

BEIJING–Surrounded by mountains, trees and farmland, Specialty Medical Supplies sits in the corner of the outskirts of northern Beijing. The campus became a flashpoint for unrest when 140 workers blocked the factory’s exits, trapping American executive Chip Starnes in his office, until their demands are met.

The employees are refusing to release him until they receive their severance packages as well as their salary from the last two months.

ABC News spoke to workers and managers at the plant and pieced together this version of the events that led up to the current situation. They said trouble began last week when Starnes, 42, arrived in Beijing to lay off 30 workers in the plastics department to move the jobs to Mumbai, India.

As representatives from India began taking pictures in the plant to be closed and other workshops, employees quickly became worried that Starnes was going to sell the entire company and leave them all jobless. They began to demand compensation.

When negotiations between the two parties failed, the workers, fearing Starnes would flee the country, decided to hold him in his office until the issue was resolved.

A vice manager who identified himself only as Mr. Wang told ABC that the factory has not been very productive for months and Starnes had already begun to pack up the equipment. He also revealed that the company has stopped importing materials and paying bills. The trees on the factory grounds have been dug up to be sold.

“The workers panicked, they are afraid the boss is going to run off,” said Wang.

Now it may very well be that this is nothing more than a dispute and the drama is still being played out.  It surely is our hope that no harm will come to a fellow American.  No hostage situation is a good situation.  Reports are that Mr. Starnes IS being treated well.

But if we are going to set the bar at gaining our diabetes supplies only doing things based on the lowest bidder; which in many cases are over seas plants, I shudder to think if our ONLY SUPPLIER of our diabetes supplies was faced with a situation like this; what it would mean as far as distribution and us having what we need when we need it.

I would not want to fly in a plane built only by a team of the lowest bidders……and I certainly do not think all of our supplies should only be based on money laid out……there is a balance. There is education, there is availability, and of course there is the cost component but if we do not find THAT balance, the cost would be much more than just money; it could mean lives.

Food for thought……….yes?

I am a diabetes dad.

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