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HealthLink's New Warehouse Reaps the Memphis Benefits

The following feature is part of the most recent issue of Memphis Crossroads MagazineClick here to see the full magazine.

The ability for customers to place orders late into the night for next-day delivery is vital in the medical device industry. HealthLink Europe & International chose Memphis for its U.S. Food and Drug Administration-registered medical warehouse to take advantage of the presence of FedEx.
HealthLink provides distribution, warehousing, customer service and financial services for the medical device industry. Clients are medical device manufacturers that want to outsource distribution operations.
“We started mainly with smaller medical device manufacturers that are very good at developing a device but warehousing and distribution isn’t their core strength,” said Sebastiaan “Bas” de Kok, director of USA Operations in the Memphis facility that opened in March.
HealthLink was founded 11 years ago in the Netherlands where its headquarters remain. A sales office is in Raleigh, North Carolina, where the U.S. distribution facility was based until the move to Memphis.
Yes, the Bluff City has a strong medical device industry presence and de Kok said being part of that community is important to HealthLink. But make no mistake, the company relocated its distribution and warehousing facility to Memphis because of the guaranteed late-night drop-off time and next-day delivery capabilities FedEx provides.
For de Kok, a native of the Netherlands, helping the company expand in Memphis is a coming home of sorts. He spent time in Michigan in a study abroad program where he met his future wife. He eventually returned home in 2010 where he was introduced to HealthLink.
De Kok worked at HealthLink in the Netherlands for a couple of years when he was approached in 2013 about setting up shop in the United States. He moved to Raleigh, North Carolina, and in 2014 helped HealthLink establish its U.S. operation.
Within a year that Raleigh warehouse was at capacity. Growth was necessary, but high real estate costs there proved problematic, not to mention the West Coast presence of many of its U.S. clients.
“You see a lot of big companies moving to town, a lot of research organizations that drive up the price,” de Kok said about Raleigh. “With us operating a warehouse that’s temperature-controlled is expensive. So we couldn’t be cost-effective for our clients.”
With interest from two large clients HealthLink began to look at expansion in Raleigh, but company leadership quickly realized a westward move might make more sense to better service its clients. A central U.S. location and FedEx’s presence helped Memphis win out over the competition.
“We thought if we want to expand and do it the right way, where do we want to be in the next five years? With FedEx in place, Memphis became more interesting,” de Kok said. “Many clients are based in California. Being on the East Coast put us at a disadvantage.”
HealthLink benefits from the late cutoff times for orders and still be able to reach any destination in the U.S. by the next morning.
“The proximity is very important when it comes to the industry we serve. These are often life-saving devices,” de Kok said. “It might be a surgery scheduled for tomorrow at 8 a.m. The closer we are to the source of getting that package to the physician at that time, it’s crucial for us. Any extra step on that process could delay that shipment and the case to be postponed. The closer we are to FedEx the better.”
It doesn’t happen often, but de Kok said there have been times when a client has an emergency procedure and has to call after hours to get a device sent for a medical procedure.
Mark Herbison, SVP of Economic Development for the Greater Memphis Chamber, said that HealthLink is one of many companies to choose Memphis for its location and strong logistics industry.
“I often like to refer to Memphis as America’s Distribution Center,” he said. “When you combine our central location with North America’s busiest cargo airport, five class-one railroads, the nation’s 4th-largest inland port and four interstates, it’s easy to see the logistical advantages Memphis can provide manufacturing, distribution and warehouse companies like HealthLink.”
What FedEx means for HealthLink was too good to pass up the opportunity to relocate to Memphis. But the move also allowed the company to grow from its former 2,600-square-foot facility in Raleigh.
HealthLink representatives toured a short list of about 10 Memphis sites over two days, including the chosen facility at 3655 Knight Road. It presented everything the company desired: air conditioning, the needed space that allowed for future growth and was cost effective. The facility is 32,000 square feet, with some 29,000 square feet devoted to warehousing.
“I think Memphis is fantastic,” de Kok said. “We had a small warehouse in Raleigh. Going from that to managing and directing a facility with expansion possibilities is important for our clients.”

Story by: Lance Wiedower
Photo by: Troy Glasgow

Posted: 12/13/2016 2:30:09 PM | with 0 comments
Filed under: Crossroads, de, Distribution, Healthlink, Inside, Kok, Logistics, Memphis, New, Sebastiaan, the

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The latest news from the Greater Memphis Chamber. For more information, contact Director of Communications Christina Meek at (901) 543-3504 ( or Communications Specialist Jenny C. Fish at (901) 543-3558 (