ISO 13485:2016
DEVICE DEVELOPMENT

Eric Ell: The Sherpa Through Uncertainty

As the saying goes, “If you’re going through Hell, keep going”. The quote, sometimes attributed to Winston Churchill, may as well have been written for Eric Ell, who does business development for Nectar Product Development (NectarPD). Eric is charismatic and playful, with a knowing gaze that invokes the mischievous side of the god Pan, and the calm wisdom of a Buddha. He is also someone who seems to be able to navigate any amount of uncertainty without flinching.  

We’re sharing food and drinks at a local Mediterranean spot in Long Beach, California, and the breeze softly picks up. Eric isn’t unsettled by changing winds. After talking with him for thirty minutes, he has already shown how much he is able to adapt, change, and ride the wings of chaos. “I bow to the Goddess of Entropy”, he says, a glint in his eye. But how is it that a man who helps keep order in chaos, still be someone who values it?

Eric came to NectarPD during a time of transition. It could be argued that he was part of the catalyst for change, as he brought light to systems that no longer served a purpose, his presence and knowledge resulting in the previous business development manager resigning.

“I’m a social lubricant; wherever there’s friction, I find a way to make things work smoothly.” He frequents trade shows to network and gather resources for the engineers, and creates environments and opportunities that enable the team to work at their optimum. His primary gift to NectarPD is his ability to match the team to the right client.

“I meet people where they’re at.” Eric smiles, looking at me squarely. “I see them for what they are and I challenge them at their strengths and support them through their weakness. Part of finding the right client is understanding how to be authentic and find the right match.” Eric screens each client that is interested in working with NectarPD. Finding out if the client and the team can truly help each other is as important to the client as it is to NectarPD.

“I don’t try to change the organization to meet the market.” Unlike a lot of sales models that try to convince the client to change, Eric supports a relationship where the client and the team match up and neither needs to compromise their authenticity.“Find the customers to meet the organic, natural state of the organization and you have very satisfied customers.”

Eric-Ell-MDM-Tradeshow-2019By the time Eric got involved with NectarPD, the founder, Darren Saravis, and Eric had crossed paths several times. Their similar worlds ranged from Burning Man festivals to a TEDx conference to music and art events. Eric had been working with a start-up in healthcare.

After two years, “I’d helped create this beautiful thing, and they had started treating people poorly” Eric scowled. “They were harming, not helping people. I’m old enough and wise enough that when someone pisses me off, I just pick up my toys and leave.” Eric didn’t believe in being a part of something that didn’t stay in integrity. Nothing in healthcare was doing well at the time, but Darren’s company was looking for help in business development. 

Eric said, “I don’t know anything about your industry, but I do know about healthcare and I do know how to make business. Teach me the business and I can sell it, and whatever investment you make in me in education, you’ll make back tenfold.”

Eric has been many things, and is a certified jack-of-all-trades. He built his first house when he was 8 years old. He’s pulled cable for movies, done pipe-fitting, worked in refineries, been a plumber, a paramedic and done corporate sales. More impressively, he believes in doing everything to a level of mastery.

“My father taught me to be a survivalist.” He said, informing me that he is an autodidact with a talent for teaching himself anything he wants to learn.

His father told him, “All you ever have is your skillset. Money will leave you. Women will leave you. Family will leave you. Everything goes away.” Hence, his level of entropy.

“All you have is your skillset; that is your currency,” he says. No wonder he’s learned so much in his life. Acceptance and perseverance play a big role in Eric’s life. Hearing the story of his family, there’s no question as to why.

Eric is the son of parents who, before they met, both learned the importance of self-reliance and survival. His father, Eddie, grew up in a Japanese prisoner of war camp and survived starvation and beating. Eddie literally fought for his life; winning fights got food for his family during his time in the camp. By the time Eddie was traded in a prisoner exchange and brought to the United States, he had learned a valuable lesson; you can lose everything and everyone, except what you’ve learned and the skills you’ve mastered.

His mother, Christine, had grown up as Joanne in a steel mill town outside Pennsylvania as one of seven sisters. Raised Catholic, she looked like Dolly Parton by the age of 13 years old, so the nuns beat her for fear of her becoming a temptress. Instead of getting their beatings, she’d ride Harley’s with the bad boys in town. By age 16, she’d married, but her husband was an abusive drunk. One night, she packed her bags and got on a train to Chicago. She hadn’t even finished high school, but she managed to find her way alone in the big city. She changed her name from Joanne to Christine and never looked back.

Eric’s parents met when Eddie was a successful businessman and Christine was working at a high-end restaurant in the 1960s. She quit her job shortly after their first date, and his dad hired someone to manage his company so they could stay up all night together and dance until dawn, every night. The picture Eric paints is of two people who lived and loved passionately.

What we learn from our parents varies, but the lessons Eric’s parents instilled in him are evident. “My dad taught me to survive and my mom taught me compassion.” Both of them, certainly, taught him to persevere through pain and hardship.

In faint, white ink, the words “From pain, purpose” has been etched by a tattoo artist into his forearm. Like most of the layers of his personality, this too is barely perceptible unless you look closely. I ask him about it.

“I take the things that hurt and make them powerful for you.” Eric had been a paramedic before training paramedics, and had sold medical devices before he started consulting for NectarPD and working with people who create the type of medical devices he used to sell. When working with a client, Eric finds out what their pain is; they may have a fear, a problem, a challenge or some area of friction that needs attention. People tend to try and work around the pain, but Eric is able to guide the client through it, and show them how to create a strength out of something that was considered negative or painful.

“Figure out where the client’s pain is and translate to them potential solutions.” Eric explains, calmly. “Part of the services I offer is, ‘the sherpa through the risk’. I can lead people through the trail of risk. I’m good at it, because I don’t flinch.”

Someone as talented as Eric could work anywhere. “Why Nectar?” I ask.

“Nectar is people who are doing things to help people.” He smiles. He tells me how important helping people is to him. “I joke that, when I was a paramedic, I did medicine on a retail level. Then I got into management, training and consulting, and that I was on the wholesale level. Now I’m in business development with Nectar, sitting at the same table as brilliant and creative people, and I’m on the distribution level. As a paramedic, I could only touch one or two people’s lives an hour. Now, if I spend a hundred hours helping a project come to life, that gets to help people for decades.”

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Nectar is an award-winning design & engineering consultancy with a specialization in medical device development. We are proudly 13485 certified, we adhere to the highest industry standards. Nectar has been an industry leader in Southern California for over 25 years. Our proven user-centered design process has facilitated the successful launch of hundreds of products in the market.
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Darren Saravis

CEO

Darren is an accomplished, dynamic leader who founded Nectar, X-Naut, and BreathDirect. He is committed to improving the world through the synthesis of technology, science, and art. Under Darren’s leadership, Nectar is leveraging the latest advances in cutting-edge technology to transform medical device development and design. As part of his

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Steven Wells Ph.D.

Director of Operations

Dr. Steve Wells holds a critical role in steering Nectar’s operations and defining its strategic direction. His impactful leadership has established a clear course for the company’s success. He has revitalized the company with a passion for maximizing impact through expert resource utilization since taking the helm in 2020. Steve has boosted Nectar’s portfolio, streamlined processes, and reinvigorated its innovation agenda, all with the goal of developing life-saving and impactful products. His background in senior leadership roles at Georg Fischer and his people-focused, results-driven leadership style make him an invaluable asset to our team. Steve’s extensive knowledge in chemistry, biocompatibility, and biology only adds to his value as a team member.

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Nellie Roque

Director of Finance and Accounting

Nellie Roque is a seasoned professional with over 17 years of experience in the fields of accounting, human resources, and payroll. She has a wide range of experience, having worked in industries such as manufacturing, software, and non-profit organizations. Nellie holds a Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration and Accounting, demonstrating her strong foundation in financial management and human resource practices. Throughout her career, Nellie has gained extensive knowledge and expertise in these areas, making her a valuable asset to any organization.
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John Duval

Principal Engineer

John is a true asset to Nectar, having been a founding member and instrumental in shaping the company’s portfolio and establishing its reputation for engineering excellence. With over 30 patents and numerous design awards to his name, John is a master of product architecture and subsystem integration, as well as design for manufacture, mechanisms, and root cause analysis. His passion for creating simple and holistic solutions that take into account a wide range of variables is evident in his work and has made him a valuable member of the Nectar team.
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Aaron Gifford

Principal Engineer

With a wealth of experience as a medical device developer, Aaron is a valuable addition to the Nectar team. His expertise in transferring medical devices and IVD instruments to production is unmatched, and his 25 years of professional engineering experience speaks to his expertise. At Nectar, Aaron plays a crucial role in ensuring regulatory compliance throughout product development and manages projects with skill and precision. His recent leadership in the development of the critical care Covid EUA BDR-19™ ventilator is a testament to his abilities, and his 13 patents in the medical device space further highlight his contributions to the field.
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Larry Larson

Director of Hardware and Firmware Engineering 

Larry Larson is a highly experienced engineering professional who has served as Nectar’s Director of Engineering for several years. He has extensive experience in leading, overseeing, and managing the design and development of innovative products, and has been involved in 70 unique product design cycles to date. With a deep understanding of highly regulated industries such as medical and aerospace devices, Larry has been instrumental in bringing cutting-edge technologies to market and delivering solutions that meet the needs of his clients. He has a passion for engineering and is dedicated to advancing the field by delivering products that are safe, effective, and of the highest quality.
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Adam Marten

Senior Mechanical Engineer

Adam Marten has worked in the aerospace and consumer products industries since 2006 with lead engineering experience in conceptual design, product development, analysis and performance qualification testing. Adam has experience leading a range of technical projects, including multiple structural analyses for military and aerospace applications. He has also worked directly with engineering teams to develop medical devices and laboratory instrumentation.

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James Wilkin

Industrial Design Manager

James is a seasoned professional with over seven years of experience at Nectar, where he brings his expertise in industrial design, user interface, and user experience to the table. With a background in the highly competitive automotive industry, working for heavyweights like Daimler and Tesla, James is a true asset to the Nectar team. He is responsible for ensuring that the company adheres to user-centered design best practices, and he works closely with clients and partners on crucial human factors strategies for FDA submissions and the overall usability engineering process. James’ achievements in this field speak to his exceptional skills and dedication to the work he does.
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Rejsa Kuci

Business Development Coordinator

Rejsa is a dynamic force in driving sales and acquiring new projects at Nectar, where she excels in seamlessly aligning the Sales and Operations teams. Holding a prestigious double degree from the Rochester Institute of Technology in Management and Multimedia, Rejsa brings a wealth of experience to her role as a Project Manager, Digital Marketing Strategist, and Creative Lead. With over four years of expertise in the digital world, Rejsa is not only highly skilled but also enthusiastic about following the ISO 13485 path to ensure successful project completion. Her ability to effectively bridge the gap between Sales and Operations, combined with her passion for driving projects forward, makes her an invaluable asset to the Nectar team.
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Belen Quintero

Associate Project Manager

Belen is a project manager at Nectar who brings a wealth of experience and expertise to her role. With a strong background in Mathematics and Philosophy from the University of California, Riverside, she has honed her skills in a variety of industries including healthcare ,education, food manufacturing, and engineering. Belen’ success as a project manager is due in large part to her ability to align projects with business goals, clearly define project needs, lead cross-functional teams, and effectively communicate results to stakeholders. With her proven track record of success, Belen is a valuable asset to the Nectar team and a key player in driving the company’s projects forward.
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Erjon Ameti

Mechatronics Engineer

Erjon Ameti is a highly knowledgeable Mechatronics Engineer with a wealth of experience in both academic settings and startup environments. With a strong background in electronics, robotics, and 3D modeling, he possesses a unique combination of skills that allow him to excel in the fields of automation systems and mechatronics. Over the past five years, Erjon has honed his expertise in product development and industrial automation, emerging as a leading authority in his field. Currently, Erjon works at Nectar as a hardware engineer, where he is responsible for documentation, CAD design, and electronics in general. He has been involved in the entire process of Nectar engineering, bringing his expertise and experience to the forefront of the company’s success.
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Redon Berisha

Electronics Engineer

Redon is a highly skilled engineer with a passion for technology and innovation. He has a background in mechatronics, which has given him a strong foundation in electronics, including electronic design, PCB design, and cable design. Redon excels in the critical components of the design process, including documentation for assemblies, testing, debugging, and ensuring each project is completed to the highest standard. At Nectar, he plays a crucial role in the creation of cutting-edge technology, bringing his unique vision to life and making him a valuable member of the team. With his technical expertise and creative vision, Redon is a leader in the field of electronic design.
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Kerry Eiss

Clinical Expert - RN, BSN, CLNC

With over two decades of experience in healthcare innovation, Kerry has been instrumental in transforming patient care and improving patient outcomes across the globe. Her extensive knowledge and expertise in the cardiovascular and cardiothoracic operating room, as well as her experience in emergency medicine, geriatrics, pediatric psychiatry, and main OR, make her a versatile and valuable member of the team. From small hospitals to large teaching institutions, Kerry’s 20 years of experience with patient documentation, including the use of EPIC, Cerner, and Meditech electronic charting systems, have positioned her as a leader in her field. Her recent involvement in helping transition the Providence St. Vincent Medical Center’s Cardiac Surgery program from paper charting to electronic documentation further underscores her commitment to advancing the healthcare industry.

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Flaka Brahimi

Marketing Manager

Flaka, a highly skilled professional with a background in Architecture and Spatial Planning from the University of Business and Technology in Pristina, holds a dual role at Nectar as both the Marketing Project Manager and a valuable member of the Business Development team. In her role as Marketing Project Manager, she is responsible for overseeing the development and execution of marketing strategies and as a member of the Business Development team, she actively contributes to the growth of the company by assisting in the creation of impactful marketing tactics. With her diverse background and expertise, Flaka plays a crucial role in ensuring the success of Nectar’s projects.
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Brayton Hammerli

User Experience Designer

Brayton is a multi-disciplinary designer with a A.A in Studio Arts and a B.S in Industrial Design from California State University Long Beach. As a user experience designer, Brayton specializes in usability evaluations, user research, feedback studies, GUI design, mobile app design, human factors evaluations, and formative studies. In his free time, Brayton enjoys outdoor activities such as hiking, mountain biking as well as other creative pursuits. He approaches problems with a solution-focused mindset and enjoys exploring ideas. 
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Stephanie Rodriguez

Accounting Coordinator

Stephanie Rodriguez is a highly experienced administrative professional with over 10 years of expertise across a diverse range of industries, including contract manufacturing, financial and wealth management, and the medical field. She holds a Bachelor’s degree in Humanities from Northern Arizona University. As a valued member of the Nectar team, Stephanie plays an integral role in supporting the engineering teams by acquiring materials and parts for the prototype phase of our clients’ projects. She also assists the Director of Accounting by issuing purchase orders and provides project managers with accurate data to effectively manage and track budgets for each stage of the statement of work. Stephanie’s knowledge and skills, combined with her dedication and drive, make her an asset to Nectar and a key player in ensuring the successful completion of our projects.
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Toska Ukaj

Scientific Content Writer

Toska Ukaj is a gifted writer who brings a wealth of expertise and passion to Nectar. With a background in medical science and years of experience producing high-quality scientific and medical publications, Toska’s writing skills are unparalleled. She boasts an excellent educational record, advanced interpersonal skills, and a deep passion for healthcare. As Nectar’s writer, Toska consistently produces clear, concise pieces that can be easily understood by the public and truly captures the essence of Nectar’s mission. With her exceptional writing abilities and commitment to healthcare, Toska is an invaluable asset to the Nectar team.
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Sean Wells

Mechanical R&D Technician

Sean plays a critical role at Nectar. He has a wide range of skills that help keep the company and equipment running. His background in machine and building maintenance means he has skilled hands ready for anything. Sean runs our lab equipment including 3D printers and a laser cutter. He also helps with complex project builds, assemblies, and testing.
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Jonathan Cantera

Quality Manager

Jonathan at his core is a Human Factors Engineer with his M.S. in Human Factors and Minor in Sociology from California State University of Long Beach. At Nectar, Jonathan is responsible for managing and maintaining the company’s ISO 13485 Quality Management System keeping in compliance with US and international regulations for product development. Jonathan’s role ensures each department is in compliance every step of the design process, making him a critical Nectar team member. Jonathan’s Human Factors background also allows him to aid in user research, feedback sessions, usability evaluations, and formative studies such as risks assessments. When he’s not in the office, Jonathan enjoys film photography, and reading.
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Vesa Hyseni

Purchasing Manager

Vesa is a skilled Purchasing Manager with a strong focus on procurement strategies and vendor management. With a track record of successfully leading procurement teams, Vesa excels in optimizing procurement processes, consistently striking a balance between quality assurance and cost-effectiveness. Her ability to identify cost-saving opportunities and manage supplier relationships effectively makes her an indispensable asset to Nectar.
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Uran Çabra

Software Engineer

Uran Çabra, with a background in Mechatronic Systems Engineering, has been working on Embedded Systems, specifically on IoT product development. His responsibilities include firmware development and electronics design and testing. He holds a master’s degree in Electrical Engineering with a focus on Autonomous Mobile Robotics.
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Sarah Clark

Industrial Designer

Sarah has a background in fine art & graphic design with a B.S in Industrial Design from California State University Long Beach. As a user experience designer her specialties include: keen aesthetics, creative problem solving, a detail oriented approach to research, and improving user journeys within complex experiences.