Coffee Break with Ross Bjella, President, DDN

Company address: 800 Woodland Prime, Suite 200, Menomonee Falls, WI 53051

Web site:

Industry: Business process outsourcing for the life science industry

Number of employees: 200

Annual revenues: Approaching $50 million

Education: B.S. in biology, University of Minnesota; M.B.A., University of Southern California

Family: Wife, Diane; and sons Anders and Braden.


What was the smartest thing your company did in the past year? 

“Moving our corporate headquarters into a larger facility and investing in a new warehouse management system to improve efficiency at our Memphis facility.”

What’s new at your company?

“DDN recently launched two new services: medical affairs, which provides medical information, adverse event and product complaint reporting; and trade support, which helps manage our clients’ retail trade channel.”

Do you plan to hire any additional staff or make any significant capital investments in your company in the next year?

“The growth of our financial and IT support services is expected to add a couple people each month. We are building additional office space and plan to expand our warehouse capacity in Memphis in late ‘09.”

What will be your company’s main challenges in the next year?

“In addition to completing the implementation of the warehouse management system, our major challenges for next year include the implementation of a quality and document management system to ISO standards and continuing to manage the rapid growth of our base business.”

What’s the hottest trend in your industry?

“Outsourcing to service providers like DDN will become hotter as financial pressures will require pharmaceutical companies to look for more cost effective alternatives.  Product serialization (identification at the unit level) will continue to be a hot topic as companies seek to reduce counterfeits and improve the security of their supply chain.”

Do you have a business mantra?

“The business mantra for Dohmen companies has been the same for 150 years: ‘Provide high quality service at a fair value while always acting in the best interest of our customers.’ Consistently doing the right thing for our clients has set DDN apart from our much larger competitors.”

From a business standpoint, who do you look up to?

“Frank Jaehnert at Brady Corp. is a local favorite because of his financial acumen and personal integrity. I also look up to Richard Branson (Virgin Records, Virgin Airlines) because of his ability to build profitable businesses in extremely competitive markets while having great fun doing it.”

What was the best advice you ever received?

“My father-in-law, Warren Hutchinson, told me, ‘Weigh your hiring decisions more heavily on character and integrity rather than on a particular skill. You can teach a skill, but you can’t teach character.’ Many of the recent issues in the financial and real estate markets were caused by failures of character, not because of a lack of skill or experience.”

What’s the funniest thing that ever happened to you in your career?

“We had our business cards translated into Hindu for a business trip to India, but when we got there, people would look at the card and break into a kind of smile. It wasn’t until late in the trip when we discovered that instead of ‘Ross Bjella – President,’ our translator had printed ‘Ross Bjella – George Bush.”

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