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Vector Technology Systems Helps Operation Smile Provide Patients With Health That Lasts

An Operation Smile India team led by Dr. Partha Sadhu, third from left, dons surgical masks during a procedure at the Durgapur Cleft Center. Photo: Lorenzo Monacelli.

Editor’s note: Our partners play a vital role in changing the lives of thousands of children born with cleft conditions. We’re proud to partner with organizations whose generous gifts allow us to extend our impact to more children and places. One such company is Vector Technology Systems, which specializes in delivering precision 3D solutions in the form of 3D printing, design, scanning, and augmented and virtual reality. Vector supports Operation Smile through both in-kind donations of personal protective equipment (PPE) such as surgical masks, face shields and gowns, as well as financial contributions. They recently donated nearly 200,000 masks, an essential tool we rely on for care delivery.

We recently spoke with Mark Cohn, the manager of Vector Technology Systems, to find out what inspires him and his employees to make giving back a part of the company culture.

Q: Tell us a little bit about Vector’s unique corporate philosophy.

A: “At Vector, we have come to view business differently than most other companies. In my experience, most people look at a business from the perspective of how much money they can make on a deal or by selling the company to capitalize on its value. Rarely does their thought process go to the other side of the equation, for example, how to structure something that is beneficial to the others involved in making the business a success. Our view is that a good business transaction must address and solve a need or problem of those others, and to do this, one has to momentarily set aside thoughts of maximizing profit.”

Q: How does Vector’s involvement in manufacturing and distributing health care products reflect this philosophy?

A: “We had some minor experience with health care services and products, but when the COVID-19 pandemic hit, we received a flood of requests to 3D print face masks, parts of face shields, parts for ventilators and other needed health care items. In fact, the need was such that this became our focus during the early weeks of the pandemic. At the same time, we received various requests to outsource products such as N95 masks.”

Photo courtesy of Vector Technology Systems.

“For instance, we had one customer who was an elderly woman who was planning to travel with her family. This was possibly the last time in her life she would be with her family but was very scared about being exposed to the virus. She approached us about buying four N95 masks, which was all she could afford but was below our minimum purchase quantity. However, the matter was reviewed by our team, and we ended up sending her two boxes of N95 masks, each containing 20 masks, for free. We did this because doing otherwise would have been inconsistent with our philosophy. The woman acted as though she had won the lottery. She didn’t. Rather, she received what she and all others should have.”

Q: Another major component of your business’ philosophy is reflected in its “Vector Gives Back” program. Can you tell us more about it?

A: “Our success is a result of the sweat equity that the workers at the company put into making it successful. They are the ones who work ultra-long hours to make all this possible, they are just as focused and committed to allocating a significant portion of our revenue to help others, including those that Operation Smile helps.

“From a business standpoint, providing the PPE at prices that are affordable met the standard of doing something that makes a difference. On top of that, even at reasonable prices, we were able to make a profit in the process. The people who work at Vector decided to focus on putting that profit toward a worthy cause. We felt it was wrong to simply generate good profit and watch others suffer during these times.

An Operation Smile medical volunteer and a young patient don masks during a medical mission in Santa Cruz, Bolivia. Photo: Diana Mulvihill.

“With the decision to give back, we decided to focus on helping others who are truly in need. We study which groups do the most with the money they are given. There is a bias toward children in need because we know that they have their entire futures ahead of them. Operation Smile met those standards.

“There is an egregious unfairness about a child living with an untreated cleft lip, cleft palate or other serious health issues.

“In that regard, we’re honored to partner with Operation Smile so that we can continue to support its mission of bringing healing to children and families around the world.”

Help us keep our promise to our patients amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Your support today means we can help them through these uncertain times and provide them with the surgery they deserve when it's safe to resume our work around the world.

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