An organization as large as the Johnson & Johnson Family of Companies hosts a vast number of domestic and international meetings, events and seminars throughout the year, requiring considerable planning and coordination. For the last 22 years, the organization has relied on East West Connection (EWC), a minority-owned meeting and event-planning firm in Pittstown, New Jersey, to deliver excellent results. It has worked with Ethicon, a Johnson & Johnson company, since 2003.
Founded in 1990 by owner Ralph Weaver – a former Johnson & Johnson employee – EWC is the preferred supplier to plan and execute Ethicon-sponsored professional education opportunities, geared to physicians and other healthcare professionals to provide training and education regarding safe and efficacious prescribing of its products. Already this year, EWC has managed 673 meetings for Ethicon, from dinner meetings to large events.
“Our team of 33 professionals has the same vision, which encompasses excellence in all we do. This mission statement, displayed throughout our building, is our standard for business, and it is in line with the Johnson & Johnson Credo,” Weaver said. Nine EWC employees work on site at Ethicon in Cincinnati, specializing in physician education, and three remain on site in Somerville, New Jersey, partnering in sales training.
He explained, “We immerse ourselves in the business and become an extension of our clients, working on their behalf to remove the worry from the logistics-planning process. East West Connection is large enough to handle global travel and meeting needs, yet small enough to be flexible and respond immediately to our clients’ changing requirements.”
Tamara Dennis-Herrmann, Sr. Manager, Customer Experience & Operations, Global Education Solutions at Ethicon said, “In September 2015 we hosted a professional education Super Course with more than 100 attendees. The EWC team executed flawlessly, managing every aspect of the event with keen attention to detail. They provided the ‘WOW’ factor and contributed to the overall success of this program. We are always in good hands with East West Connection.”
Global Reach, With a Focus on Details
From sourcing venues, assigning on-site staff and negotiating pricing with third-party vendors to monitoring expenses and recommending money-saving alternatives, EWC works behind the scenes with great attention to detail, delivering exactly what is needed for each event. The company maintains an extensive network of supplier partnerships around the globe, enabling EWC to organize – on short notice – meeting locations around the world, customized for each country and its culture, including materials created in local languages.
A graduate of Boston University, Weaver began his career in public relations, later working in pharmaceutical marketing prior to heading East West Consulting, a marketing communications/ public relations firm that led to East West Connection. The name grew from his desire to merge cultures, resulting from his international travel and his interest in collecting local art and decorative items.
“East West Connection has been a valued strategic partner to the Global Education Solution Operations team for several years,” Tamara commented. “With each planning season they continue to bring outstanding customer service to our business partners and external customers.” She added, “Their commitment to providing best- in-class service is demonstrated through their people, strategic staffing models and collaborative, very engaged leadership team. They believe in the J&J CREDO and understand who we are, and are passionate about helping us succeed in our mission.”
Weaver observed, “Johnson & Johnson has always treated us like a true partner. We’ve never felt like just a vendor— it’s more of a collaborative effort, with honest feedback that helps us grow as an organization.” He noted, “I think what has made EWC a valued partner is that we haven’t rested on our laurels – we don’t take our J&J business for granted.”
Ethicon customer Novant Health is an integrated network that consists of more than 1,200 physicians and 25,000 team members at nearly 500 locations, including 13 medical centers and hundreds of outpatient facilities and physician clinics. Healthcare professionals from its hospitals, including Novant Health Presbyterian Medical Center and Novant Health Prince William Medical Center, have attended Ethicon sponsored/EWC-implemented training courses to gain valuable medical education about Ethicon products used in the Novant Health system.
Kevin Price, Director, Supplier Diversity & Performance at Novant Health, said, “As healthcare supply chain continues to compress and suppliers get larger, I worry about how hospitals will continue to engage smaller diverse suppliers. I believe Tier 2 participation of diverse suppliers will become more important over time. Hospitals are relying upon great Tier 1 suppliers, like Ethicon/J&J, to help us continue to engage diverse suppliers at the Tier 2 level. Engagement of EWC is a great example.”
“Without my experience at Johnson & Johnson, I could not do what I do today,” Weaver said. “I put myself in the position of our clients, and do what would make the company proud. I take great pride when people say they’ve learned a lot at – and enjoyed – a meeting.”
If you’ve ever wondered what happens to leftover food from large meetings: Weaver and his team work with the event venues, arranging to donate food to charities, food banks and the homeless – further delivering on his quest to nurture connection and create important benefit.