For William Hawkins, Medtronic Inc. (NYSE:MDT) runs in the family.
Inside his corner office at the Fridley, Minn.-based medical device goliath, Hawkins, chairman and CEO of one of the world’s largest medical device companies, keeps a picture of two customers he says not only shaped how he sees his company but how he sees the world.
One is Hawkins’ father, who has had multiple Medtronic stents implanted. The the other is of his late uncle, a World War II veteran and Parkinson’s disease sufferer who underwent deep brain stimulation therapy at the age of 87. It was an operation Hawkins said provided some relief for the debilitating tremors. He mentions these successful outcomes less as a boast than as embodiments of his vision for Medtronic’s future.
“Today we have the capabilities, technology and knowledge to treat heart failure, diabetes, degenerative disc disease. The real shift is thinking about ourselves in a bigger way, much more than just a device company.”
The 56-year-old executive sat down with MassDevice recently in Washington, D.C., to talk about that vision and how the world’s foremost name in stents and pacemakers is undergoing a dramatic paradigm shift, fueled by its size, reach and incredible cash reserves.
Medtronic has bought 10 companies in the past 24 months and is hungry for more, Hawkins said. The company is looking to expand its reach with both tuck-in acquisitions in its strongest markets and also to expand into newer, more innovative spaces. It’s all part of what Hawkins calls a transformation into a “chronic disease management” business.
“If you asked me when I first came here, ‘What is Medtronic?’ I would have said we’re a pacemaker company, a stent company, or a pump company,” he told us. “But today we have the capabilities and technology and the knowledge to be able to treat heart failure, to treat diabetes, to treat degenerative disc disease. The real shift is thinking about ourselves in a bigger way, much more than just a device company.”
Hawkins, who took over the top job from Arthur Collins in 2007, said the current wave of consolidation is good for the medical device industry and will ultimately lead to more innovation.
“If there weren’t companies like Medtronic that were willing to pay for value, we wouldn’t have as many startups. I think it’s healthy,” he said. “The consolidation also accelerates a lot of the technologies to patients around the world.”
Hawkins opened up on a wide range of topics, including what technologies excite him, his thoughts on the medical device tax, healthcare reform and looming changes to the FDA’s 510(k) program.
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