A global belief in the team

SomnoMed is a global medical device company that treats Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA) patients with an oral appliance. Sleep Apnea is a medical condition/disorder that occurs where a person’s breathing is interrupted during sleep because the airway becomes blocked. Left untreated this can lead to some serious co-morbidities linked to sleep such as diabetes, heart disease, hypertension, etc.

This treatment modality uses an appliance that is custom made and fits over your upper and lower teeth very comfortably and worn at night while asleep. The lower jaw (mandible) is then moved slightly forward to create an opening in your airway allowing for a noiseless (no snoring) solution to the interruptions that can be caused by OSA.

COVID-19 arrived in early March 2020 and challenged all of that in an instant. While we did not ever anticipate such an occurrence, we acted very quickly to build a response to what was then, a complete unknown.

Firstly, we followed the premise that we would immediately prepare for the worst and hope for the better. We modeled various scenarios that assumed no revenues for 3 months, reduced debtors’ collections, and various levels of cost cuts to ensure the survival of the company. On that basis, we urgently raised $15.5m capital from our shareholders to ensure that we would survive this.

Secondly, we communicated the likely severity of the impending situation to our staff in a very transparent way. This was backed up, however, with some solutions that, if we all played our part, would again ensure that our jobs would be protected. We did not want to lose anyone at SomnoMed due to this pandemic. Part of the cost cuts identified were clearly related to salaries. We immediately instituted a “job protection plan” which meant that everyone in the organization would take a salary cut for a period of time to ensure that we could save the jobs for the good of all our colleagues. We were in this together. From myself as CEO, to all levels throughout the company, we took a salary cut until we could be reasonably safe that we would be able to trade our way out.

And we did! We applied a global belief in our team, a story of resilience and grit while strengthening our culture within our SomnoMed Family.  We connected with each other often and I personally addressed the teams on a regular basis. I fielded difficult questions of uncertainty and fear while, at the same time, had no concrete answers myself.  We kept all communication honest but provided some hope and comfort through our visible actions that were working.

I believe that today, although we are not completely out of the woods due to various resurgences of COVID-19 globally, we have a far stronger bond and connection between us all having dealt with this as a team. It is about the people. It is about the team.

Neil Verdal-Austin, CEO