Jim Dunning, founder of QPC Services, never set out to own his own business. “It was just sort of the natural evolution,” he said.
QPC Services, a regulatory and quality consulting firm, focuses on risk management and remediation for small- to mid-sized medical device companies, supplement companies and ISO companies. Working both nationally and internationally, this company operates almost entirely virtually. Their international work is primarily in the regulatory application and remediation areas. “Our sweet spot is west of the Mississippi,” said Dunning, “because of our headquarters here in Arizona.”
The firm works with companies through the remediation process or in a preventative capacity, helping companies avoid regulatory distress from the start.
Dunning first launched in 2001. Since then the company has undergone a few evolutions, including a name change and becoming an s-corp. Today, more than 14 years later, it’s going strong.”I always wanted to make a company that I would want to work for,” he said.
Dunning describes himself – and his company – as high touch and high tech. “I’m a tech person,” he said. “At the same time, I’m a little bit old school; I like the person-to-person, eye-to-eye communication. I use these two opposite methodologies internally and externally.”
Each consultant interviews with Dunning before coming on board. And, if a client has any customer service concerns, they will have direct access to him. Something he believes his clients appreciate. “I want to make sure I’m taking the time to touch base personally with each client,” he said.
Looking over the last 14 years, Dunning admits there were moments when he questioned himself and the business.
“There were days I was certain I was going to fail. I can remember financially looking at things with sweat pouring off my forehead, but I was fortunate. I always treat people the way I wanted to be treated and that always came around,” he said.
“Failure,” he continued, “is something you need to be able to face. You need to be able as a leader to deal with uncertainty. We try to look as far as we can into the future, but we need to be comfortable knowing that we don’t always know what’s coming around the corner.”
“At the age of 20 I didn’t know I was going to become an entrepreneur,” Dunning said. Instead, he was enrolled in college, and then joined the U.S. Air Force.
“I first joined the Air Force, so I could finish my college education,” he said. “Of course, they wanted me to work, so it took me a few more years to graduate than planned.”
After 12 years in the Air Force, serving both within the United States and in Europe, Dunning admits that they had a large hand in shaping who he is today.
Upon returning from Germany with his wife and their two kids under 5 years old, Dunning made a life change. “I knew I wanted to be a captain of industry not a leader in the Air Force.”
Having spent more than a decade preparing for warfare, Dunning was ready to transition into the civilian world. “I think it was partly the opportunity to contribute something solely positive to society – something that would help people. Although, I stand by protecting our nation and national security, the change was good for me. The medical device industry offered the opportunity to excel at helping people – patients.”
He spent the next decade working in the medical device and pharmaceutical industries. With no previous experience beyond an extremely technical background – he worked in the electronic warfare department – Dunning began to thrive in the industry. Near the end of his tenure, he knew he did not want to leave Phoenix; it had become his home.
“I knew I wanted to be based here,” he said. “And I knew it was time for something bigger than me.”
For the first five years in the consulting business, Dunning worked hard to build a foundation. “It was based a lot on who I knew and grew from there,” he said. “And as it all came together, I knew I was doing what I wanted.”
As Dunning looked over his career, he notes many prominent faces – people who contributed to his success today. Two stood out above the crowd.
While serving in the Air Force, Dunning worked under a Vietnam veteran. “He had worked in forward air support,” Dunning said. “It was a very high-risk team in the Air Force. I watched his behavior as he was someone who’d served in several terms – his coolness under pressure. He didn’t sweat the small stuff. It taught me how to work with people. He was a very genuine man.”
Another key mentor was located more locally, in Phoenix. “He was quite different,” Dunning said. “He was laidback, well-educated. I was so young while I worked with him; I thought I was the smartest guy in the world. He helped me learn to be smart enough to know I may not be the smartest guy in the world; and, even if I were, that it isn’t a competition and I don’t always need to show it.”
Now, as Dunning develops his own management team and a growing team of consultants, he looks to pass on the wisdom. “Our leaders all have practical experience,” Dunning said. “We have people who have worked with the FDA. They serve a tremendous role.”
For Dunning, the real assets he looks for in those he considers for leadership is real time experience along with leadership experience. “We focus on project management and communication.”
Having acknowledged that he cannot be everywhere at once, Dunning puts a lot of power in the hands of his leaders. “Every leader needs to be able to stand alone and complete their project. At the same time, I’m available. I don’t work a normal 9-5. I’m available around my clients’ schedules.”
A part of this process includes incorporating the company into the remediation process. “We don’t do it all for them because it wouldn’t help the company in the long run and it simply wouldn’t be cost effective for them.”
For years, Dunning has worked on the brand of QPC Services. As he worked to put something so abstract into words, he moved to a tangible comparison – cars. With his company’s focus on functionality and practical solutions, he compared their brand to a Honda Fit. “It’s practical, it’s efficient. That’s what we want to be.”
“We drive innovation,” Dunning said. “We live every day with quality. We try to go beyond metrics in monitoring ourselves. We’re more interested in the quality and leadership of the people we attract. I want to be the kind of company everyone wants to work for.”
Looking over the people he has hired over the years, Dunning wouldn’t say there is a “type” he’s looking for. “We bring in people for what they love to do. We assign projects based on interest not just ability. At the same time, we know what we’re not and we know when something isn’t working. If we’re not a fit for a company, we won’t work with them. I’ve learned to say no.”
If the company is chosen to move forward on a project outside of their specific areas of expertise, they collaborate with an alliance of experts to deliver their results.
While Dunning focuses on assigning people to projects that feed their intellectual curiosity, he is also cost conscious. “Some projects are more complex than others. If a solution doesn’t require a senior consultant, I won’t assign one. We’ll provide a staff member that has the skill level to handle the problem correctly at the right rate.”
Looking ahead, Dunning is excited to transition away from his subcontractor work. “I’ve contracted with Fortune 500 and Fortune 100 companies and I’ve had a blast,” Dunning said. “At this point, though, I’m moving all my focus to the business and our clients.”
QPC Services is also taking the past 14 years of work and combining it into a simple regulatory compliance package. “It will be different from anything in the industry,” he said. “We’re excited to launch it.”
Quality Management System
Risk Management Programs
Supplier Assessment Solutions
Regulatory Monitoring Solutions
Bachelor of Science, Industrial Technology, Southern Illinois University, 1988
Associate Degree in Business Management, University of South Carolina, 1988
Quality Manager, Orthpaedic Biosystems
Quality Engineer, Orthologic
Compliance Specialist, Steris
Compliance Specialist, Sanofi Winthrop Pharmaceuticals
American Society for Quality
Regulatory Affairs Professional Society
Trustegrity Business Networking
Arizona Small Business Association
Better Business Bureau, A+ Rating
Glazer-Kennedy Insider’s Circle
Daughters, Katherine & Lauren