Richard Packer has been with Zoll Medical since 1992, taking on various roles in operations and finance before landing the corner office.
He’s seen the company through some transformative times, he told an audience at this week’s MassDevice Big 100 East event in Waltham, Mass. He steered Zoll through this year’s $2.2 billion buyout by Asahi Kasei (TYO:3407) but he also manned the corner office during 2 slumps that forced him to make tough decisions about his role as a leader:
"In 2004 I grew the sales force immensely, and then we hit a municipal slowdown. Our business was in the tank, we lost money for the 1st time. I had to lay people off. I said I’m never going to do that as the leader of Zoll again.
Fast forward to 2009, we’re mostly a capital equipment company. The financial crisis comes, business is in the toilet, and I have to look in the mirror and say, “I said I wasn’t going to do that as the leader as Zoll, so either I can’t be the leader of Zoll or I have to find another way through.”
So we kept all of our people, even though we took our profits all the way down to zero. It was public at the time, we explained that to our investors.
We told them everybody else was retreating in our industry – we were going to buy. We added sales people, we bought hypothermia, we invested in the LifeVest and it really is what made Zoll the company that it is today."