Stephen MacMillan’s abrupt decision to walk away from Stryker (NYSE:SYK) for “family reasons” resonated throughout the halls of the annual confab of the orthopedic industry.
“Everyone is surprised and worried about him and his family,” Robin Young, the editor and publisher of Orthopedics This Week told MassDevice. "He’s a pretty popular guy. Even competitors liked him personally, so a lot of people are just hoping it gets resolved."
Young, who was on the ground in San Francisco for the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons conference, said that most of the attendees were taking the company at its word that the issue is related to personal reasons and not about his performance as a CEO. He added that while the mood was still energetic at AAOS there were "a lot of long faces at the Stryker booth."
MacMillan abruptly resigned from the company last night, citing "family issues." He will be replaced in the interim by CFO Curt Hartman. While there was lots of speculation about the nature of his hasty exit, very little is known about the nature of the issues. One local news outlet reported that MacMillan and his wife Amy were in the process of a divorce.
In a note to investors Adam Feinstein, an analyst at Barclay’s Capital, wrote that he attended a meeting Stryker hosted with analysts at AAOS featuring interim CEO Curt Hartman and Katherine Owen, VP of strategy, and that their comments "suggest that these family issues began late last year and Mr. MacMillan resigned yesterday, with full support of the board."
Tamara Cutler, VP of public affairs for the Kalamazoo, Mich., orthopedics giant told us that the company would not be making any further comments on MacMillan’s resignation.
MacMillan, 48, spent 7 years as the company’s CEO, taking over for John Brown, who had served as the company’s chief executive from 1977 through 2004. Young told us that MacMillan had a lot to be proud of in his tenure in the corner office.
Particularly, Young pointed to the strong performance of the company’s spine business in recent years. He added that MacMillan was aggressive with the firm’s cash during the recession, finding bargains on the M&A market and continuing to diversify the company’s product lines.
However, as far as a legacy goes, Young had a hard time pinpointing what MacMillan’s impact was on the orthopedic industry.
"People were still beginning to know him," he said.