Tijuana, Mexico
Wednesday 28th September 2011
Full on!  There has been no time to adjust to the time zone or recover from yesterday's long flight...meeting in the hotel lobby at 8am, we were whisked off in a minibus to Vista, CA & the DJO Head Office.  Immediately the facility was impressive & a feeling of enthusiasm, pride & friendliness greeted us from every employee we met.  We were given a guided tour of the offices, the engineering & research & development departments (which, given my work in our Hi-Innovation project, I found particularly fascinating) & then down on to the manufacturing floor.  We were then introduced to new CEO, Mike Mogul (great name for a guy in his position), International Business Development Officer John Martin & even spoke to engineers & product development team members to discuss several of their foot & ankle products, suggesting how these could be improved.  

After a quick bite of lunch, we all boarded the coach to the Mexican border & a journey into the unexpected.  Upon crossing the border, the change in socio-economic climate between the US & Mexico was starkly apparent.  Ramshackle shanty shacks clung precariously to the arid hill sides on the way from passport control & down into Tijuana, jolting back memories of the Favellas I'd seen in Rio & Sao Paolo.  The poverty was tangeable & yet as we arrived at the DJO facility we were given a warm & smiley welcome, which was a sign of things to come.

We were met by the Head of HR & the main Systems Supervisor & the pride in what had been developed in the factory was a delight to behold.  The passion with which they described the structure that had been put in place was matched only by their pride in the company being named "Best Place to Work in Mexico" in 2010 & achieving second in the same poll earlier this year.  The factory floor was made of of over a hundred manufacturing cells, which is a characteristic of the lean manufacturing model that DJO has employed & the hive of activity was mightily impressive.  

It was a great experience to see the braces that I use on a daily basis being moulded, pressed, stitched & screwed together before being packaged into the packets that I see arrive in the orders I place week by week.  I will definitely appreciate the products more having seen the Mexican workforce busily grafting to put them together.

On returning to the hotel, we were joined by James Calder (a great ankle surgeon from London) & his colleague Peter Rosenfeld (another foot & ankle consultant from the capital).  I had never met James nor Peter before but I instantly liked them as chaps with great chat & a warm demeanour.  They are leading tomorrow's cadaveric lab work & I am really looking forward to the day.  Supper was accompanied by some caustically funny banter with Peter Chan setting himself up for some amusing joshing from Alistair Wilson, James Stanley, Andy Roche, Jon Young & myself but coming back with some classic lines.  The day has been great & tomorrow promises to be even better!

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