A Conversation With Greg Mattson

In this issue, O&P News poses five questions to Greg Mattson, CTPO, CPA.

Mattson is president and CEO of Fabtech Systems LLC, an orthotic and prosthetic central fabricator and product manufacturing distributor located in Everett, Wash. Mattson has been actively involved in the prosthetics and orthotics industry for the last 23 years since he graduated from Minnesota’s Northwest Metro Technical College in 1992. Mattson has presented technical lectures at numerous O&P industry conferences and seminars. He served as treasurer of the American Orthotic and Prosthetic Association (AOPA)’s Fabrication Sciences Society for 2 years and is an active member of the Orthotic and Prosthetic Technical Association (OPTA) and Vistage International. He is a member of the O&P News Editorial Board and has published numerous technical articles in industry magazines. Mattson also has participated in intensive lean manufacturing training with the consulting company Gemba Research for the past 14 years, training both in the U.S. and Japan with multiple companies including Omron, Denso, Ricoh and Toyota Motor Corporation.

O&P News: What was the defining moment that led you to your field?

Mattson: Like many friends I know in the industry, I fell into this career by chance.

After high school, I was attending college with the goal of attaining a fine arts degree focusing on sculpting and design. I was going to school full time and working at a ceramic pottery business as a pottery designer and master mold maker. The work in the commercial sector was very unfulfilling and restraining, not to mention it was very hot and much of the work consisted of lifting and pouring heavy slip molds all day.

After 2 years, I was offered an apprenticeship with a well-known Arizona sculptor and would have to relocate to New Mexico. It was an offer of a lifetime, but in the end I turned it down because I felt my life may end up being a financial struggle as it is with most artists. Art would be a personal thing for me in my future and not a commercial venture.

Greg Mattson, CTPO, CPA

I had always liked and done well with science classes in school and decided to change my direction in school with a focus to medical. In the meantime, I needed money and a job so I took an EMT course, passed and applied to the fire department. This was starting to look promising when I heard about prosthetics from a family member, who thought it would be a perfect fit for me. They were right. It is the perfect balance of problem solving and artistic skill that worked out well for me. The bonus for me was the end result helped people who needed help. I looked into the field, took a flight to Minnesota and check out the school. I applied in March and started in June.

I have been in the field now for 23 years.

O&P News: Who has had the greatest influence on your career?

Mattson: My dad taught me to take a job or opportunity for the skill set you will learn, not the money. If you have a wide variety of skills, the money will come later. My first job out of school was at Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital at Stanford. I wanted to work for a nonprofit hospital where I would be exposed to a wide range of patients, complicated cases and build a strong skill set.

It was here at Stanford that I met Gary Bedard. Gary was a past Stanford employee who had taken a position at Becker Orthopedic. He lived very close to the hospital and, at this time, Gary was working on his now-famous plastics research in his garage. I had the opportunity to work with him from time to time testing materials in the garage. He instilled the desire in me to start researching materials and development. We also formed the AOPA Fabrication Sciences Society with Tony Wickman. I was the first treasurer of this organization which started my professional involvement in the industry speaking and organizing technical meetings.

Gary also set me up (and vouched for me) with a great lead on a management position when I decided to leave Stanford, and this opportunity led me to starting my own company a few years later.

O&P News: Have you ever been fortunate enough to witness or to have been part of medical history in the making? If so, please explain.

Mattson: While at Stanford, I was able to be involved in many research and development projects. It was a great place to see new and upcoming technologies.

I also was personally involved in the development of a device that I am very proud to be a part of. My company Fabtech Systems supported a patient who had an idea for a sports knee since nothing on the market addressed his wants and desires. He had shopped the idea around to many companies and there were no takers. We took on the project and helped bring to market the Bartlett Tendon knee. The knee has ended up helping many amputee military veterans and patients all over the world participate in sports activities again.

When we started the project in early 2006, there were no sports-specific knees on the market for amputees. Now there are four or five. I feel we helped drive and create a niche that needed more attention from the industry.

O&P News: What are your hobbies outside of work?

Mattson: I am a Gemini. I always have too many things going on. I spend a lot of late-night therapy time in my garage/studio.

Currently I am restoring a 1950s R Series BMW motorcycle. This is feeding my artistic side and motorcycle problem for now. I also ride and race off-road motorcycles and am training for a 24-hour off-road endurance race this October. Kids and family also keep me busy.

O&P News: What is up next for you?

Mattson: Business continues to be exciting and keeping us busy. A couple of our products have achieved a new class certification for aviation interiors and we have formed new partnership in Europe to represent the products in aviation re-fitting. I imagine there will be more time spent traveling to Europe in the near future.

We also have three new products for O&P that we will introduce at the AOPA National Assembly in Texas this fall. It is always exciting to see years’ worth of work come to fruition.

Other than that, I look forward to continuing my involvement in the industry professionally and look forward to helping patients and customers for years to come. It is nice to do something you truly enjoy.

For more information:

Greg Mattson, CTPO, CPA, can be reached by email at: greg@fabtechsystems.com

Disclosure: Mattson reports no relevant financial disclosures.

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