It’s a melancholy day here at MassDevice headquarters now that J. Raymond Elliott is no longer the head honcho at Boston Scientific (NYSE:BSX).
For some, it may not seem like a big deal. After all, Elliott’s tenure at the Natick, Mass.-based medical device giant was relatively short, spanning little more than 26 months. But this is not an occasion to catalog the business moves he made, of which there were many. Rather, our Boston offices are dark today because the manner in which Elliott went about his job was great theater.
No more will we be able to gather around the computer to listen in on his colorful earnings calls, or investor road shows, where the ever-candid Elliott never failed to provide a great money quote during his straight-up Q&As with analysts.
These forums provided one of my favorite Elliott moments. Last spring, a somewhat ornery Elliott decided to deliver a double-fisted gut punch to two of his biggest rivals: Medtronic Inc. (NYSE:MDT) and St. Jude Medical (NYSE:STJ) on the eve of the Heart Rhythm Society’s annual meeting.
"[MDT’s] Protecta is a catch-up product," Elliot told the investors. "We’ve had that technology since 2008. I know Medtronic wouldn’t agree, but they’d be wrong."
The feisty Elliot then took aim at Medtronic’s Twin Cities neighbor St. Jude, calling that company’s new lead "99 percent hype."
"There’s been a massive amount of curb appeal on the [Quartet], but it’s really 99 percent hype. It’s as simple as that," he said.
Elliot wasn’t all negative on St. Jude, conceding that the buzz around STJ’s quadripolar lead is the by-product of "good marketing."
When he wasn’t poking his rivals in the ribs, he aimed a razor wit at his own company, once noting that with BSX’s bloated management structure they could "run a country with the head office we have, rather than a company."
But nothing got his dander up like the medical device tax, which Elliott took aim at on several occasions. The latest was a September investors meeting, where he dubbed the levy an "outrage" that’s "soaking one of the last remaining industries in this country" to pay high wages."
We’d love to have been able to add our own quotes here, but Elliott never did give us an interview, despite dozens of appeals to BSX officials up and down the ladder. Still, we don’t hold any grudges. That’s because, with all due respect to the medical device leaders who have worked with us over the years, I can’t name any other CEO in our space who made the job more enjoyable than Ray.
And we’re still holding out hope that his first post-retirement interview will be here with MassDevice.