What happens when MMA, telecom, medical sales, and marketing meet together? In this episode, Samuel Adeyinka interviews special guests Chandler Holderness and Evan Gorges to share their fascinating journey and top shelf performances on the road to disrupting industries. Chandler and Evan are both part-owners of a medical device distributorship specializing in spine, and part-owners of a surgeon branding company. Chandler has a strong background in sales, marketing, and territory management. Evan comes from the telecommunication industry, but is equipped in sales strategy and customer targeting. Together, they discuss how they leveraged their backgrounds and different fields to thrive in the medical world. They discuss how marketing, telecom, and spine can have huge impacts in the medical industry. Tune in now.
The CE experience for this Podcast is powered by CMEfy – click here to reflect and earn credits: https://earnc.me/RCH7K5
Connect with our guests on LinkedIn: Chandler Holderness | Evan Gorges
Darkwater Consulting: Website | Videos
Alliance Medical LCC: Website
A Legacy of Civil Rights Advocacy: YouTube
In this episode, we have with us two special guests. They go by the names of Chandler and Evan. This is what happens when MMA meets telecom, meets medical sales, meets marketing. What am I talking about exactly? You have to read this episode. The journey that these two guys have been on is nothing short of fascinating, and they have quite a story to tell. As always, we do our best to bring you innovative guests that are paving the way to disrupting industries and setting the example of top-shelf performance. This episode does not disappoint. Thank you for reading, and I hope you enjoy this interview.
Gentlemen, how are we doing?
We’re doing well. Thanks for having us on, Sam.
We got Chandler and Evan, but I’ll stop there and let you guys do the introductions. Chandler, why don’t you start us off?
My name’s Chandler Holderness. I’m specializing in spine.
Evan, how about you?
I’m Chandler’s counterpart.
I talked to a lot of people in the medical sales space, especially in the medical device spine space. A lot of distributorships are out there, but a distributorship/marketing company puts a spin on things. Either one of you, explain to us a little bit about what that means as far as your organization.
The spine distributorship came first. A little bit of my background, I was with a company for a number of years in South Denver, and eventually, branched away. I started my own medical device distributorship. Shortly after, Evan came on and joined me. At the same time, while I was sitting out for a non-compete, we stopped and took inventory of what’s a real value add to surgeons.
Is it a blue, purple screw, or pedicle screw? Is it a red, ACDF plate? No. What we saw as real value is the ability to help support their career and their personal endeavor of being able to build a respectable profession within South Denver, and even outside of that in Colorado. We then decided that we were going to start from zero and build a branding company that helped surgeons catch up to the rest of every other industry and effectively brand and market themselves.
Not only to primary care docs, chiropractors, or referring physicians but also to the patients themselves. We built the branding company because we hear a lot of there’s this moniker in healthcare, especially in sales, where they’re talking about, “Don’t get stuck in the red water where everyone’s fighting over the same business or product. Find a new product that someone else doesn’t have.” We said, “We prefer to take it even deeper into the Darkwater.”
That’s catchy. I like that. Let’s take it a little further back because a lot of our readers are brand new. They don’t even understand what distributorship is. Let’s take it back to when both of you started. Take us back to college. Evan, why don’t you go first? Was it that you knew that a spine rep existed when you were in college, and you were about to become a spine rep on graduation day or was it something more of a discovery?
No, I did not know spine reping was a thing. I didn’t know that sales existed in the medical space, to be honest. My view of it was what’s glamorized in media, which is pharmaceutical reps. You see these movies about them, and they lived a super glamorous lifestyle, but it was never anything that I thought I would transition into at any point in time. At no point did I even think, “Did I know this was a job,” and at no point did I think I’d be doing it.
Fair enough. When did it happen to you then? You graduated, and what did you do?
I went to a training program for marketing and sales. I branched off of them and opened up my own franchise in Albuquerque, New Mexico. I sold that business and then moved to Denver. I worked in telecoms for three years after that. Through some mutual friends, I met Chandler. The timing was right. When he needed someone, I was looking to make a move, and so I jumped into it, honestly.
You didn’t even spend time as a spine rep. You went straight into spine distributorship. You learned the business on the fly.
I didn’t know the difference between a direct rep and a distributor. When I signed on with Chandler, I just knew I was signing on with Chandler.
Chandler, take us back. Same story for you. Do you have no idea when you graduated or you knew you were getting into this?
I had no idea. When I was in college, I was an athlete. I had no idea about medical sales or anything like that. I was finishing all my requirements to go to med school. I had taken the MCAT in my junior year. I was still on the fence about med school or not. I shadowed an orthopedic surgeon for a summer, and he talked me out of being a doctor. He’s like, “If you want to come back to it, you can come back to it but try other stuff first.” Coming from an athletic background and having that competitive drive, I gravitated toward sales.
I knew I needed to get some sales experience, so I went, and my first sales job was selling credit repair in Boston, Massachusetts, but I was living in Denver. I’d have to fly back and forth every other week. That was my territory. It was a hard job but amazing. I learned so much. I encourage everyone that is ever looking to get into medical sales to do a regular terrible sales job first.
From there, I got into a small medical device company where I was selling little test strips. That moved me to Austin, Texas. I worked there for about a year, then got a job in the OR selling for a company. Doing neuromodulation, so spinal cord stimulators. I got a promotion within that job and moved out to Nashville, Tennessee. I didn’t like living out there that much. I got fired from there and left.
You can’t throw that out there. Tell us the story.
It’s a similar place where a lot of med device reps find themselves at some point. They’ll get burned by the industry in some way. I went and started working for a company. I excelled and did well, was super competitive, and got promoted in Austin, Texas. I had some great leadership.
Define real quick what a TM was.
It was Team Manager. I was there to support TM 3, who’s the main rep. I was tasked to go out and get my own business. I came into a territory. Their TM 3 had quit, left, took the relationships, and they hired a new TM 3 that I had never so been in spinal cord stimulators before. I had more experience. At some point, there wasn’t enough growth to justify four people on our team. I was the one that was let go. I totally understand.
It’s a reorganization. I then moved back to Colorado and was ready and started applying to different places. I worked in Colorado Springs. One of the saltiest to the Earth human I’ve ever met was Brad Vering. He won a silver medal in the 2007 Olympics in wrestling. It’s that type of person. He’s like a dog. That guy will grind it out. I did that for a year, then moved up to South Denver and took a promotion in South Denver.
What sport were you playing in college?
I fought pro. I turned pro when I was nineteen.
Was the sport wrestling?
It’s mixed martial arts.
That’s a competitive sport in college.
I was professional. I couldn’t walk on any sports teams in college because I was already a professional. I was sponsored and everything.
In college, you were a sponsored MMA fighter.
How are you going to blow by that fact?
Go on Google if you want to look him up.
Were you entertaining UFC or what?
I never fought in UFC. I fought in a lot of higher regional circuits. It’s funny. It allowed me to keep sponsorships during the fights. The UFC won’t let people keep. It was awesome. I met so many good people through that. Some of the most humble, nice, caring, and, in all honesty, intelligent people I’ve ever met were guys I trained with. Georges St-Pierre is one of the most thoughtful people I’ve ever met. Shane Carwin is a super good dude. Neil Magny is still one of the best humans on the planet. There are tons of people that I got to train with.
It’s no secret now. Forget medical sales. In sales in general, you got to be a fighter, but for you to have been a fighter, that’s a compelling story and a compelling spirit that you’re taking into medical sales. That is amazing. Something happened then for you to say, “I don’t want to try to get into the UFC, and I want to explore being a physician.” Was that always the plan, or did you have a moment that changed the trajectory for you?
I’ll put it in perspective. When Shane Carwin was getting ready to fight Brock Lesnar, I was one of his training partners. Shane Carwin kept his day job. That goes to tell you how little longevity there is in the UFC or MMA in general. I saw it as a building block. If you’re a college kid that’s getting paid $5,000 to $10,000 to fight, you’re pumped. That’s solid. That’s great. It kept me in shape, and it was awesome.
Did you mention this in the interviews that you went on for medical sales positions?
My experience as an MMA fighter probably got me through more doors than my education ever did.
That’s where it is. That’s it. There’s something you said earlier that I want to touch on real quick. You said that you would recommend any person that wants to get into medical device sales to do a regular sales job. With that being said, and our program is one of them, there are programs now where people can bypass getting into a sales job and learn what it takes to get into medical sales positions. How do you see things like what we do? How do you see that?
The more personalized, the better. The only reason that I said, “Go get a sales job,” was that’s the best way to get the experience of what you’re going to go into. If you go to a bigger medical sales institution or something like that, it’s usually a giant class and one size fits all. With any other program like your guys’ program, a little more customized, and you work one-on-one with the person, which is completely different. You get to know that person individually, and you can have the conversation with them where you’re like, “Here’s something that worked well for someone who’s like you.” You give them something to chase after. If they’re going at it alone, and they want to take the long route, get a crappy tough sales job.
Let’s fast-forward now. You’re killing it. You are a fighter, and then you meet this great guy, Evan, that’s coming from telecom, and he’s in his world. How did you sell Evan on this idea to quit what he’s doing, come over to start a spine distributorship that Evan knows nothing about, and then go on to create a marketing company to add to this company to make this venture that you guys have now? What was that conversation like? Evan, you can speak to this. Was it a phone call? He’s like, “I got a great idea.” Walk us through the story. What happened?
I’ll speak from my perspective first. I was in the Comcast business for three years. Speaking to what Chandler said about sales jobs, I will second that. Getting noes in a cold calling environment, there’s nothing like it, and it builds you quick. I had a conversation with Chandler a couple of years prior to joining him. We have the same friend group. It was one of those things. At the time, I was making great money with the company. I didn’t have a reason to leave.
There was a lot of uncomfortability in moving. It wasn’t familiar. It wasn’t comfortable. I had good money coming in, so why leave? Fast-forward a couple of years, a couple of conversations later, I’m a supervisor, and there’s a joy that people take from training others and building people up. It’s the job that I’ve done in every single role that I’ve been in up to this point in my career. For me, at that point in time, it wasn’t very fulfilling.
When Chandler called again, I was like, “This is the last time I can offer this. I need to know. We’ve kicked the can down the road. I can’t kick the can down the road anymore. Are you interested?” I was, so it was the right time. It was a good environment. I felt like there was a real challenge here. 1) Understanding the industry, and then 2) Wrapping my head around the fact that I was going to be in ORs.
It was a scary thought for me at the time. It was the right time to make the move. It’s been completely fulfilling. I don’t regret it for a second. I came from a failed business prior to Comcast. There were a lot of apprehensions I had towards taking a risk, but if the timing lines up and there had been enough time for my last failure to lick my wounds and get over it, I made the jump.
Life favors the bold. More power to you. Chandler, why Evan? When you had the idea to go this direction and leave the company, what was it about Evan that, “I got to get this guy to get on the team?” Walk us through what happened.
I was six months into making the jump from the company. I thought I had figured out who was going to cover my non-compete. Not only did I make a jump from the company into distribution. I went into distribution and the products I used, or I picked or contract with the companies I contracted with, none of their stuff was on contract at any of my hospitals.
When I moved over, my surgeons flipped stuff right away, and I wasn’t expecting that. I’m like, “You left the company. Cool. Tuesday, we have three T lifts and an ACDF.” I started covering cases, and then I got served with a cease and desist. I had tried out a few other reps, having them help cover, and I’ll go back to why and what separated Evan from them. I was fumbling through, trying to set up cases at 2:00 AM where I wouldn’t be seen in the hospital.
Eventually, it led to me getting a cease and desist from the company. I pitched to Evan. Like I said, it was the one where I’m like, “I got to know. Can you come on and help me?” I’m not sure if he knew what the job was when he accepted it, but he joined. Evan, I didn’t get the cease and desist until after you were hired. I hired Evan because I was going through other reps, and they weren’t doing that great of a job.
I hire Evan, and I’m like, “This is going to be perfect. There are only six months left on my non-compete. We should be good. I haven’t gotten anything yet, so it will be perfect. I can train you and be there with you. It will be a nice slow learning curve. You’ve never been in the OR? No problem. I got you.” Two weeks after I hire him, I get cease and desist.
That’s movie script quality right there. What happened?
I go home one day and have this certified package on my doorstep. I’m like, “What is this?” I open it and look at it, and it’s from Lusk Boulevard. I’m like, “I wonder if the company forgot part of a check or something. Let’s see what’s in here.” No. It’s cease and desist.
There has been some panic.
That’s scary, for sure. I knew that was a risk when I was going into it. I was lucky with the company. When I left the company, the year before I left, I did a little over $1.5 million in sales. Why I’m saying that I was lucky for that is that it wasn’t a lot to lose. It wasn’t a lot to walk away from. It didn’t hold me there. Whereas if I had $5 million, I’d be like, “It’s a big risk.” I left knowing that there was a good chance, but at the same time, I was the most successful in South Denver that they had so far. I knew it was a risk, and it is scary. It’s funny on the outside. Looking in, it’s not that scary.
Let me ask Evan because you can say that now. How scary was he, Evan, when he got the letter, and he gave you the call that he got the letter?
This question is a running joke in our distributorship because I had my own business previously, so I knew what the implications of a cease and desist were. What I did not understand was what position that puts our distributor in at the time. I was two weeks into it. There was very little understanding of anything that went on in this industry. I was trying to figure out what trays to put back together. That’s the level that we’re talking about here. I had seen one case.
There was a large lack of understanding of what that meant for our distributorship at the time. What I will say about Chandler within that time is that I’ve seen this a lot. There was no difference, honestly, in demeanor. For leaders of a business, there’s got to be a certain acceptance of what your emotions can do to people in a situational awareness of that. For me, I was very new at that time. I was vulnerable. There was no confidence on my end. Even seeing that and understanding the implications of a cease and desist, when Chandler said there was nothing to worry about, in my head, there was nothing to worry about, so I didn’t.
Chandler’s confidence was supporting your confidence.
It is what it is. That’s fantastic news. How did you guys adjust? What happened after that?
Pretty much through Evan in the deep end. I was like, “We’re going to be doing some late-night studying.” We had this storage unit, and that storage unit became our walkthrough staging area for, “These are the cases we have tomorrow. These are the cases we have in two days. Let’s get the sets in, and we’re going to walk through every single one of these. By the way, the surgeons haven’t seen this particular set before. We’re going to go through it and here are the questions I think they’ll ask.” We had plenty of late-night role-playing. “Walk me through the system without touching it. I’m the scrub tech. I’m the one that touches it. You got to walk me through it. Not just knowing how it works, but how to explain it to someone else who doesn’t know how it work how it works.”
Here’s one thing I want to touch on real quick. We have a lot of people reading that might not be very clear on what a cease desist means but explain it in layman’s terms. I want Evan to do it because Evan was the one that was brought in and forced to learn it from not knowing exactly what that is. Explain what a cease and desist means for a new distributorship.
It’s this terrifying warning letter of intent to sue. If you continue the behavior that is in violation of your non-compete, which prohibits you from having any business in these hospitals or with these surgeons, then they can sue and they will sue. It’s a heavy-handed notice to stop doing anything if you are.
You guys got around that by changing up the procedures a little bit.
I wouldn’t say we got around it. We managed. That’s why I brought up the glamorization of the pharmaceutical rep earlier in that what we had to do and the work we had to put in was ugly. It was the grind. There was a lot of frustration on my end because there was so much I didn’t know. I’ve done pretty well in school up to this point, and to feel like the dumbest person in the room every time I walked into one was such a scary feeling. It’s one that I wasn’t used to. There was an understanding that I needed to do this, and we needed to do this work, and the work was not going to get done if we didn’t do it, so we had to do it and that was it. There was no alternative other than doing the job, so we did the job.To feel like the dumbest person in every room you enter is such a scary feeling. But it gives you an understanding you need to do the work. Click To Tweet
Chandler, how long were you guys doing this distributorship only before the marketing piece became an actual business opportunity?
While I was sitting out on my non-compete, the cool calm collectiveness was from the morning spent in prayer. That was it. I spent hours and hours praying. I felt like God told me to buy a camera and I don’t know why, but it was like, “Let’s see what this is all about.” From there, Evan and I kept bouncing ideas off each other on what this could be. I bought a camera, signed a lease, had a studio built into that lease, and shot one video for the next six months.
It was a complete waste of time, but it was me sitting there and waiting for answers, and then we started filming. Evan was the first one to say it. At first, we were like, “Maybe we do rep training, maybe we do how to get into medical sales, stuff like that.” We don’t feel like that’s what we’re supposed to do. Evan was like, “The marketing’s key.” I’m like, “Really? Everyone talks about marketing.” He goes, “Marketing’s key. We can bounce into any industry, and this industry specifically is terrible at marketing.” You have surgeons still posting X-rays and MRIs hoping to get patients off those.
It’s never going to happen unless your patient is going to be another doctor or something. I was probably month eight into my non-compete at that point. Evan had been with me for two months, I would think. That’s when we started filming and asking the question, “What if we approached this industry in a different way? What if we expanded our value add to surgeons?” From there, we have an awesome surgeon partner.
They let us use him as our guinea pig like, “Do you mind coming and burning three hours and filming with us?” We created some god-awful content and terrible content. Cutting the floor sticks to the bottom of your shoe content. The cool thing is we failed fast. We found what didn’t work, and then we started teaching ourselves. I spent a lot of time learning how to edit in Premiere Pro. We spent the better part of a year learning how to film. We were unashamedly critical of ourselves when we would look at content. From then on we started building on it. It led its own path at that point.It’s a cool thing to fail fast. You find what didn't work, and then you can start teaching yourself. Click To Tweet
It sounds like the marketing strategy or going in that direction was only intended to be a value add, but then it became its own business. How quickly did that happen?
We realized that there was a real need and a niche for it. Probably within 6 to 8 months of us starting it, we were solely focused on the craft of creating good content. For the better part of the first year, we were like, “We are going to master great content. Do you see surgeons put out so much content on LinkedIn that is them looking at their computer screen like the sandwich view of that surgeon explaining something?”
These surgeons have great messages. They have awesome stories. They are interesting people, but they don’t always convey that to people. We figured out within that first year that this could be something special. Our first thing was we were going to learn to film. We are going to perfect this part of the craft. As a medical device rep, you don’t worry about building a territory when you first get in. You first worry about you becoming obsessed with the perfection of a case, “How can I cover this case to the best of my ability?” I don’t deserve the business if I can’t do that.
I’m going to switch gears a little bit. I want to highlight something. You both are underrepresented groups. You’re Filipino, Evan, and you’re half-Black, Chandler. How has that played any role in both of your careers to your detriment or your benefit? Talk to us a little bit about what that experience is like. One thing that we’ve done here at the show is we want to highlight underrepresented groups. Let’s be honest, the medical sales world is pretty White dominated. Either of you can speak to that. Maybe, Evan, you go first, and then Chandler, please.
I was very lucky growing up. I grew up in a very accepting community. I grew up in El Paso, Texas. It’s a border town next to Mexico that commonly gets mistaken for Mexican. I’m fine with it because I grew up in a community that only showed me love growing up. I did go to Texas Tech for college, and that was a jarring experience for me because it’s a very White-dominated school. They let you know. That was where I experienced a lot of me being different and being called out for it.
In my career, it was the same thing. A lot of it was in El Paso, Albuquerque, and Denver. All of these, in my opinion, are very accepting areas and communities and ones where minorities are fairly well represented. I haven’t experienced it so much in my career. I feel like it’s been a detriment. For me, the exposure and the communities I grew up in were almost a benefit.
I grew up in Western Colorado, a super wide area. I’ve lived in Western Colorado, Texas, Tennessee, Boulder, Colorado, and Boston, Massachusetts. I stuck out a lot in the more rural Western Colorado parts of Tennessee, and parts of Texas, but everyone was curious, and it was genuine curiosity. I never took offense to anything like that. The biggest obstacle I had to overcome in those ways was honestly my non-compete.
At one point, we had to have our attorneys send a letter to one of the major hospital systems, letting them know that we were about to sue him for discrimination. There was a hospital director that had revoked some credentials on my rep tracks credentials and was requiring me to jump through hoops that no one else had to jump through to get them back.
You felt something was going on.
It was weird. I got six other spine reps that year that also left their companies. We’re all good friends, and they were all White. They all said the same thing like, “This is super bizarre. This guy’s going after you.” At a certain point, I was like, “Once I got off my non-compete, I’m not going to let you back into the facility.” When I emailed him and was like, “What do I need to do that’s standard that everyone else had to do to get back into the facility?” he emailed back, “What I’m asking to do is not standard.” That was when my attorneys took that and ran. They even said, “Chandler, do you want to never work again?” I’m like, “No. I’m not even trying to do that. I want to get my credentials back and be able to keep doing what I’m doing day after day.” Offline, I’ll tell you more about it. It was an insane story.
That sounds like firsthand discrimination right there.
It was pretty crazy.
The beauty of it is you’re here now with a thriving organization with your friend here, Evan, and it hasn’t stopped you in any way, shape, or form. That’s awesome.
It was pretty cool. We got to shoot a video and helped launch a campaign for one of my best friends who’s a civil rights attorney in Denver. If you go to our website, DarkwaterConsulting.com, go to our Branding Videos, you’ll be able to see Tyrone Glover‘s video. It’s insane. He got to talk about how his background was from his grandparents, who remember not being allowed to walk on the streets during daylight and window-shop and do stuff like that.
That’s powerful stuff.
We have a big part of what’s cool about being a distributor. You get to think out of the box and give back to causes that you care about.
Let’s jump back into it. You guys are growing fast now. The marketing is picking up. You’re seeing the value. Where are you now? How big is the marketing piece compared to the distributorship piece? What’s going on with both of those directions?
The marketing piece has absolutely taken off. We have surgeons across multiple states. We’ve even started to expand outside of healthcare because of our ability to capture stories so well. We work with a lot of distributors around the US. Let’s say a distributor is trying to differentiate themselves in a market, and they want to partner with a surgeon specifically. We empower that distributor by working with that distributor to pretty much build the same thing that we’ve built out there. They almost white-label our marketing platform. We tie them and the surgeon together closely and help them bring a bigger value to surgeons than a pedicle screw or an ACDF plate.
I’m assuming they’re extremely receptive to that. They want to do it.
Absolutely, but the thing is, you got to have the right surgeon too. If the surgeon is a big hospital employee or a surgeon at a huge facility, then probably not the best candidate because he is going to be being fed patients at that point. If it’s a private practice surgeon, that’s where we go after. We have a special place for those private practice surgeons because they have a harder and harder year after year.
As these small private practices are being bought up by hospital groups, these other guys are still growing outside of it and swimming against the tide, choosing their own destiny, and becoming specialists within their specialty. We explained to medical device distributors our program and the necessity of our program in terms of cups and water. I talked to you about this a little bit earlier. A few years ago, if a surgeon was to come out of their training and start a private practice, they would say that they were out in a desert.Grow outside the boundaries, swim against the tide. Choose your own destiny and become the specialist within your specialty. Click To Tweet
The water is patient. They have to get water. They have to get more patients. To transfer that to make that water nutritious or to be able to something they could consume, you have to put it in a cup, so you have to do the surgery. The cup is the company. A few years ago, there were four major companies, Medtronic, NuVasive, DePuy, and Stryker. If you got any of those cups, no matter what, there were going to be patients inside of it.
Surgeons were going to be putting water inside that no matter what. Fast-forward now, there are in Denver. In Denver, the statistic is if you’re a spine surgeon coming out of training, whether you’re a neuro spine or ortho spine, and whether you’re private practice or even hospital employed, you have a 60% chance of failing in the first two years and leaving the state.
You only have a 40% chance of staying here for two years. What does that tell us? That tells us there are a lot more surgeons now. There’s the same amount of water, and there are an infinite number of cups. There are 250 companies that make pedicle screws in the world. They don’t need cups. They need water. That’s what we specialize in, selling. We have some of the best products that are made. We are extremely proud to partner with the companies we partner with. They do an amazing job at creating life-changing products, but the real value to surgeons is water. It’s patients.
Evan, I want to ask you this question because your perspective is going to be a little bit different from Chandler’s. Chandler’s been in this industry for a minute. You were forced into it. You were invited into it and then forced to learn it well.
It was forced against my will. That’s what happened.
Where do you see the trend going maybe in the next five years? What do you see happening in your area regarding what challenges you spoke about?
What I see is a need for differentiation. People are going into this industry. This is outside of healthcare. I came from outside healthcare. I’ve had my sales and marketing business outside of healthcare. If there are 250 makers of 1 product, it doesn’t matter who’s selling it for me.
Are you sure about that, Evan?
If there are 250 makers, I know that there are at least 10 in there that are good that I can choose from. If I’m up against 250 other reps, there is a chance that 9 out of 10 of those are better than me, assuming we all have the best stuff. As a newcomer to this industry, how can I make myself more valuable to a surgeon than those nine other reps and those 240 other companies? It all comes down to differentiation and getting creative.
We recognize the need for marketing here. We stumbled upon it, but there is a huge need for this stuff. We wouldn’t have been able to come up with that solution if we weren’t thinking critically about our current situation. I’ve been very lucky in my career to have had situations that have forced me to critically think. I’m very fortunate to come into this one, to be working alongside a critical thinker. There is an understanding that as reps in hospitals, we are not viewed very well.
There’s a lot of resistance in hospitals because we’re the reps, and you guys make so much money, and you’re going on your three vacations a year, and there’s no grind behind it. We know the work that we do. There’s differentiation in that. If people are not going to differentiate themselves, if they’re going to try to follow the same play, run it up the middle in an I-Form formation that in an I-Form, then you’re only going to get 1-yard. You have to get creative with your plate calling, and if you don’t, you’re going to fail.
How about you, Chandler? Anything to add to that?
In this industry, especially here, you’re going to have to be a more creative and better rep to survive. Like I said, if spine surgeons are having a hard time surviving because it’s too crowded, 6X the amount of spine surgeons and that’s how many reps there are. These companies have done such a great job of innovating that they’ve made themselves all commodities.
We’re going to come to a close pretty soon here. We have a lot of medical device spine reps reading that are probably not in their heads now. We have people that are probably curious about the industry, people that want to get in, and people in completely different fields. I’ll start with you, Evan. Let me give some context maybe in the vein of having that value add. What’s one thing you’d like to share with the audience?
Do not be afraid to work. If someone’s coming into this industry, it’s going to be tough hours. It’s going to be a difficult job. It’s mentally and physically draining, but it’s worth it. If it’s worth it to you, then do the word to get what you want out of it. If there’s not work ethic behind the intention, there’s never going to be movement.
I’m going off exactly what Evan said. He nailed it. That’s going back to what separates Evan from pretty much most reps. By far, I always say he is the best rep in Denver. He’s a dog. That guy will grind it out with the best of him. He’s like, “You need me to go to the airport? I’m going to go to the airport and pick up the ACDF tray at 2:00 in the morning. I got it.'” It’s awesome. This is why he’s a partner in this business. He took ownership. That’s the key. It’s not about the happy hours and the national sales meetings or any of that glamorous stuff.
You cement yourself at 2:00 AM on a Sunday and at 6:00 PM on a Saturday. When you’re running sets, the first to answer the phone, and have stuff up, it’s you resetting after your cases, in case something else comes in. It’s grit. That’s what it is. In anything that we hire, we always look at each other, and we’re like, “We don’t want the best dressed. We don’t want the most educated. We want dogs. We want people that are hungry that will get in there. We don’t need another clean car reps. You’ll go and get some reps cars, and they’re pristine.” There’s nothing out of place.
You get me in Evan’s car, there’s probably anywhere between 4 and 6 coffee mugs rolling around in there. There are jackets everywhere. There may even be some scrubs from another hospital down there. If you can’t embrace grit, this industry’s not for you. At least not in spine. There are other parts of this industry that can tailor you greatly. In spine, we look for the dogs.
To your point, if you’re going to be a performer in any industry, especially in medical sales, you got to have that grit. Beyond spine, if you want to be a performer, which everybody should strive to be, then you definitely have to have that grit. That’s beautifully said by both of you. Thank you so much, guys, for all of your insight. The journey has been amazing to listen to.
That’s the post-MMA fighter on the line with us. We’re going to switch gears as we wrap up the show. I’m going to ask you each four of the same questions. You guys have a limited time to answer them. Give me the answer that first comes to mind, and we’ll start with you, Evan. Evan, what is the best book you’ve read in the last six months?
No One Gives A Shit About Your Brand.
That is intense. Who wrote that?
The publisher published it with an anonymous author. I’m sure that was intentional. It’s a little kitschy for me. It is dated to a point, but it asks a lot of questions that as a marketing company, we have to answer.
How about you, Chandler? Best book you read in the last six months?
Not bad. I was not expecting to hear. Not that I wasn’t hearing anything. The Count of Monte Cristo, was that new to you or did you want to read that?
I reread it, actually. It’s my favorite book in general. It’s the best revenge story of all time. It’s patience, calculation, and grit. Someone kept with their plan and formulated their plan. When they were buried, they weren’t buried. They were planted.
I’m going to reread that book myself. I love that you put that out there. Next question. Evan, what is the best movie or TV show you’ve seen in the last six months?
Love, Death & Robots.
You like the intense stuff, Evan. You’re the definition of grit over here from the books he reads to the shows he watches. How about you, Chandler?
I’m watching Severance now, and it’s awesome. That’s a cool show. It’s interesting to watch how we view work and life. You’re always like, “I got to separate work in life.” It talks about the duality of those two separate identities.
I’ll have to check that one out. Evan, the best meal you’ve had in the last six months. It can be a restaurant/meal, that kind of thing.
Chandler and I are probably going to have the same answer on this one. We went to a birthday surgeon at this restaurant called The Wolf’s Tailor in Denver. Honestly, not the best meal I’ve had in six months. It’s probably the best meal I have ever had.
Do you second that, Chandler?
I do second that. It’s a restaurant. That’s an experience. It’s phenomenal. Denver is not a food city. Living in Boston, I was spending a lot of time in New York. I spend a ton of time in California. I will put The Wolf’s Tailor against any restaurant in the US.
That is on the list now, The Wolf’s Tailor. Last question for you, Evan, and you, Chandler, what is the best experience you’ve had in the last six months?
I got married in Iceland on a volcano in July.
Of course, the intense guy says that. First of all, congratulations.
That’s amazing and awesome. Volcano in Iceland is incredible. How about you, Chandler?
My second daughter was born.
You did go ahead and tough that. You guys are some incredible guys. That’s awesome, Chandler. Congratulations to you too. Both of you, it was amazing to have you on the show. Thank you for sharing with us wonderful journeys, and we’ve all learned so much. We can’t wait to see what comes from all your continued ventures. Thank you guys for being on the show.
Real quick, Samuel, our distributorship, you can see that too. Alliance Medical, it’s Ally-Med.com. Our branding company is Darkwater Consulting, and that’s DarkwaterConsulting.com. If there are any distributors, reps, surgeons, or anyone interested after they see and take a look at our content, they can sign up for a consultation with us.
Can we leave your LinkedIn, so people can get ahold of you guys on the show as well?
@ChandlerHolderness is LinkedIn, and @DarkWaterConsulting is one.
Again, thank you for being on the show, and we’ll be watching as you guys continue to do amazing things out there.
That was Chandler and Evan with Alliance Medical and Darkwater Consulting. There are quite a few things I loved about this episode. Their story is fascinating. You can see the partnership is very genuine. I love that Chandler is half Black, and he’s experienced. Enough things in his career to rise above it all and do what he wants to do, I couldn’t champion that more.
That’s something that doesn’t go unnoticed. Especially during this month, for those of you reading this at some random month, this episode did come out in February 2023. It’s an important month to highlight, and I love being able to highlight what Chandler’s doing for the stage that they’re setting for diversity in this field. For two underrepresented groups to get together and create an organization that is disrupting the industry and changing the way things have been done to the point where it’s creating opportunities for practitioners in an entire state, that’s a big deal.
I’m happy to share it with you all on this episode. You might have read this episode and have been thinking to yourself, “I want to be a distributorship one day.” Again, stop wondering and thinking about it, go out there and do it. You heard Chandler say it. There are two avenues to go when it comes to getting into medical sales.
You can go out there and get a position as a sales rep for the worst thing in the world to sell and give your all for maybe three years and then give it your all to try and get a position, or you can go to Evolve Your Success, select Attain Medical Sales Role, and, in three months, be in the same position of a medical sales role. I’ll let you be the judge on which one suits you better. You heard it right from the medical sales professional’s mouth that there’s a way to get where you want to be relatively quick, and that’s what we do here at Evolve Your Success. Thank you for reading and make sure you tune in next week for another episode.
Chandler Holderness is a part-owner of a medical device distributorship specializing in spine, as well as a part-owner of a surgeon branding company, Darkwater Consulting. He has a strong background in sales and marketing as a former Spine Specialist, as well as territory management. It’s his goal to help surgeons catch up to other industries by building their brands and helping them market themselves effectively to impact more patient lives.
Evan Gorges is a part-owner of a medical device distributorship specializing in spine, and he’s also the part-owner of a marketing company, Darkwater Consulting. He comes from outside the industry as a former supervisor at a telecommunication company, but equipped in sales strategy and targeting customers’ needs even since before he started working in the healthcare industry. He envisions a need for differentiation in healthcare marketing through creative strategies, and made it his goal to innovate and help clients build their brand in a compelling and engaging way.
Love the show? Subscribe, rate, review, and share!
Join the Medical Sales Podcast Community today: