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Hotel Arthrex

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  • | 7:06 a.m. May 4, 2012
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One of Collier County's largest private employers is growing so large that it needs a convention center to host sales and educational meetings.

Reinhold Schmieding, founder and president of surgical-device maker Arthrex, made a public plea for such a facility at a gathering of hoteliers in Naples recently. He says the Naples area misses out on medical and sales meetings that Arthrex hosts because there's no facility that's large enough.

“We spend millions of dollars on meetings we could do here,” Schmieding told the Collier County Lodging & Tourism Alliance. He estimates 10,000 people will visit Arthrex this year, and they'll spend $10 million.

From humble beginnings in 1981, Naples-based Arthrex posted more than $1.1 billion in sales last year. The company, which manufactures 6,000 different surgical tools for orthopedic surgeons, is experiencing 20% annual growth, Schmieding says.

Schmieding attributes the company's success to the fact that Arthrex has always educated surgeons to win their business. In the company's early days in Munich, Schmieding would show off his newly created tools in the morning and entertain surgeons at the beer gardens in the afternoon.

Today, Schmieding says he would prefer to educate surgeons in Naples, where the company is headquartered. Surgeons can train in the company's labs in the morning and go play golf or shop on their own time in the afternoon, he says.

Already, the Naples Hilton is one hotel Schmieding says he routinely uses to host smaller groups of doctors. “Pretty soon they're not going to call it the Hilton, they're going to call it the Arthrex Hotel,” he chuckles.

But Schmieding says Naples doesn't have the facilities it needs to host larger groups. “I ask you to lobby our local politicians to build a convention center to accommodate our growth,” he says.

For example, Arthrex recently hosted 2,000 people at a national sales meeting at the Gaylord Texan Hotel and Convention Center in Dallas over five days last year, spending $1.3 million for the event. Last year, the company hosted 1,600 Latin American surgeons with a $2 million event in Miami.

In addition, Schmieding says he's negotiating with undisclosed hospital companies to build a surgical center where doctors from all over the world can come train and observe the latest surgical techniques on patients. Currently, the doctors train in a laboratory setting at the company's Naples headquarters. “That is going to happen, but it's going to take a few years,” Schmieding says. “It's an opportunity for the future, so stay tuned.”

Schmieding suggested some of the bed-tax money spent on beach nourishment be used to build the convention center. “We need to broaden that investment,” he says.

Schmieding is critical of what he says is Collier County government's anti-business climate, however. “Unfortunately, our community is not committed to attracting business,” Schmieding says. “Our government is a little dysfunctional right now.”

Schmieding was particularly critical of Collier County commissioners. “We don't have a team of commissioners with a vision for economic development,” he says. “You have to elect the right people.”

The political foot-dragging may benefit the private sector, however. For example, the nearby Marco Island Florida Resort & Spa may build a 40,000-square-foot convention center, large enough to accommodate Arthrex, says General Manager Rick Medwedeff. “We've already penciled it out,” he says.


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