The Interview: Chris Miskel

Last updated on June 18th, 2019 at 11:19 am

Chris Miskel   

President and chief executive officer

Versiti Inc.

638 N. 18th St., Milwaukee

Employees: 2,100

Milwaukee-based Versiti Inc., an affiliation of blood centers throughout the Midwest, recently rolled out new branding across its locations, including the former BloodCenter of Wisconsin. Versiti currently operates four blood collection and distribution centers in Illinois, Indiana, Michigan and Wisconsin, along with the Blood Research Institute. In January, Versiti announced it would expand into its fifth state when it opens a new blood distribution center in partnership with the Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center in Columbus. Reporter Lauren Anderson recently spoke with Chris Miskel, president and chief executive officer of Versiti, about the brand rollout and the holding company’s growth.

What benefits does being part of Versiti offer the BloodCenter?

“BloodCenter of Wisconsin has essentially built the largest Midwestern blood center in the United States. We’re the fifth largest supplier of blood in the U.S. and we’ve partnered with some exceptional organizations across the Midwest. We’ve brought together all of our expertise to be able to serve more patients. Over the course of the last decade or so, the number of investigators we have at the Blood Research Institute in Wauwatosa has tripled to 35 investigative labs. And the researchers we have there are internationally renowned.”

What’s driven that growth in the research arm?

“We’ve had really strong leadership of the Research Institute over time. We have an excellent board that’s highly engaged with what we do and extremely supportive of research. That’s No. 1. My predecessor that led, which was at the time the BloodCenter of Wisconsin, and what became Versiti, for 15 years was an exceptional leader and equally committed to research. When I ask some of the investigators here why they came, it’s because the textbooks that they study out of have the names of the people that actually work for us, either those that have in the past or still work for us today. We have some of the giants in blood research literally in our building in Tosa to coach and mentor and inspire the next wave of investigators. That greatness creates an environment that then attracts great talent.”

Why put the Versiti brand on its organizations?

“The new look really reflects the spectrum of expertise we have in all things blood. When we interact with our customers across the United States, they’ve come to expect certain things from us and we want to have a consistent look and feel that reflects the expertise we have and the urgency we have to serve them. In most cases our blood customers are local, but we also have a diagnostic lab that’s doing very specialized testing that has customers across the United States. So we want to bring it all together with a central brand and central look and feel.”

What differences will customers see?

“For donors who know us as BloodCenter of Wisconsin, the transition will be to ‘Versiti BloodCenter of Wisconsin.’ We wanted to keep that local connection because, ultimately, we’re here first and foremost to serve our local communities. The organization will stay the same; the blood products that we are fortunate to collect here will help patients in the 59 hospitals where we provide blood here in Wisconsin. The beauty of being part of Versiti is now with the other states that are part of our organization, we can help those really rare and uncommon patients where it’s harder to find a match. The scale of a bigger database allows us to match the right donor to the right recipient so we can care for patients in a very precise way.”

What do you envision in the future regarding blood center consolidation?

“I suspect that when we get to another five to 10 years, we’ll look back and there will have been more consolidation. Versiti as an organization will be standing for the next 50-plus years by virtue of the strength of what we bring to the table and what our customers have come to expect and desire from us.”

Sign up for BizTimes Daily Alerts

Stay up-to-date on the people, companies and issues that impact business in Milwaukee and Southeast Wisconsin