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Business & science

Barry McNamara
Tyler Yarde in a 2004 Monmouth football photo.
Every spring, nearly 300 Monmouth College seniors face the daunting task of deciding on a career path or landing a job. Tyler Yarde was one senior who met the challenge head-on, deciding to forego more stable employment options in favor of a career in sales.

Since the month he graduated in 2005, Yarde has depended on incentive compensation and sales commissions to cover his mortgage and car payment. Despite that uncertainty, he has excelled in sales for Stryker Medical – so much so that in just four years, he is among the top 10 of 256 national sales representatives and maintains a six-figure income. He has accomplished a lot, but it wasn’t easy.

Yarde majored in business administration and public relations at MC, knowing he wanted to get into sales. He just didn’t know what area would be his focus.

“I worked for a smaller medical device company out of Pennsylvania as their Chicago sales representative for my first year,” he said. “My supervisor told me we had two accounts, and if I could get more accounts, I wouldn’t get fired. I was motivated to learn about medicine and the science behind it, but I didn’t have the luxury of time to devote to scientific inquiry. So much for giving you some time to learn the business and acclimate to medical device sales.”

At a conference that year, Yarde met a Stryker representative, who advised him to apply with the company. He decided to pursue an opportunity in the greater Peoria area and says, “I have not looked back.”

Instead of the typical two-year period as a “runner,” Yarde made the jump to account representative in two months. Next year, he is expected to sell $2.8 million in Stryker product. But his current high status in the company does not mean he can rest on his laurels.

“I will get fired in 2012 if I do not hit my target set by management,” said Yarde, noting that it’s typical for the bottom 10 percent of sales representatives to be let go every year.

To continue his success, Yarde keeps lines of communication open 24/7 with his clients. He has furthered his education by taking two classes, and he constantly works on understanding the science behind the devices he’s selling by studying online. Yarde said he participates in any training or lectures for which he can make time, and he references four different anatomy books frequently in addition to watching as many surgeries in person as he can. Yarde has watched hundreds of videos related to procedures involving injuries and the equipment Stryker sells.

“Like a lot of my Monmouth classmates, I had high aspirations,” he said. “I was willing to do the extra work to succeed. Now, I am contacted regularly by headhunters and executive search firms offering opportunities at competitive firms. I tell them I am happy at Stryker. They have been good to me.”

Medical device sales is not a stable business. With high malpractice insurance rates and low Medicare reimbursements, many independent physicians are joining hospitals and large medical groups. Groups such as St. John’s or OSF have purchasing agents or buying groups that make influencing doctors or bringing new products to market difficult.

“If I cannot add value, my doctor clients won’t give me the time of day,” Yarde said. “Doctors can’t afford to spend the time exploring new products and test devices, except in rare circumstances.”

Yarde can definitely be counted among a growing group of MC alumni who believe the college is on the right track with its emphasis on the integration of science and business.

“I think it is great Monmouth College has the foresight to combine business and science,” he said. “Life sciences is a growing industry and combining science with business is what companies are looking for today. I wish I had taken the time to add a science minor to my experience at Monmouth. ”

He is also proud of the quality of education his alma mater provides.

“My Monmouth marketing professor was the one who gave me the idea that marketing health care was a great place to go,” said Yarde, who was an all-conference defensive back for the Fighting Scots. “We toured a hospital together, and we heard a speech from their marketing director. I didn’t even know health care device firms existed, let alone aggressively marketed their products.”

Simply put, he said, “The experience at Monmouth College changed my life. I will always remember professors Cates, Capener, Connell and Johnston, and I continue to encourage any student to take their courses. I am where I am today because of the quality faculty at Monmouth.”