Although the perks of the progressive Mercedes Medical, a family-run-and-owned medical-supply distribution company, have been highly publicized (the office is dog-friendly and has an in-office gym, massage room and yoga classes) there remains something to be said for CEO Alex Miller’s contribution to her company and her staff’s wellbeing.
“If I’m going to demand half of my staff’s lives, I want to create an environment that I would want to come to work in,” said Miller.
The vibrant entrepreneur is a force to be reckoned with, but don’t tell her it is because she’s a woman.
“It’s nice to be recognized as a business person and to know that women are being acknowledged, but I feel business success is gender neutral,” Miller said.
That success has followed her since she entered the business, which her mother, Noelle Haft, began in 1991, and grew Mercedes Medical from $500,000 in sales to now $25 million annually. Miller has always believed that despite the conventional wisdom “do what you love,” you should start with identifying what you’re truly good at, something that you could then develop a passion for, and do that.
“An excellent entrepreneur is someone who can recognize that their organization at some point becomes bigger than them alone and who can identify and develop talent to create something truly extraordinary,” Miller said. “It may take a village to raise a child but it takes only a handful of smart, talented team players working together to achieve great things for an organization.”
Another contributing factor to Miller’s success is that she is constantly evolving and learning.
“Always be growing — personally and professionally,” Miller said. “It’s not always the comfortable thing to do, but keep going that extra mile and continue to learn. I’m always trying to learn something new. Right now, I’m learning to become a yoga instructor. I’m always wondering, ‘How can I develop the other side of my personality and talents?’”
Equally as important as the profits and the awards is Miller’s commitment to the community. She continues to feel rewarded by her work on the board of Humane Society of Sarasota County for the past four years.
“Unlike your profession where you should find something you’re good at first, and have passion come second, with nonprofit work you really need to find something that moves you,” said Miller.
AT A GLANCE
Address: Mercedes Medical Inc., 7590 Commerce Court, Sarasota
Start date: 1993 (Miller started in 1995)
Number of employees when started: Two
Number of employees now: 50
Advice: Kick yourself out of the nest. We all live in these cozy, well-defined nests that we’ve created. You must force yourself to fly out and experience things that don’t come naturally to you.
Biggest challenge: Remaining competitive in a saturated health-care distribution market that is constantly advancing technologically.
Where do you see your business a year from now: Thirty million in sales and 60 employees