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Ron Matricaria: A Study in Conviction

Executive Summary

Not many healthcare product executives have resumes that can boast of having run both drug and device businesses the way Ron Mstricaria did at Eli Lilly. Not content with his success at Lilly, Matricaria took early retirement to embark on the challenge of directing St. Jude Medical's transition from a successful single-product firm to a major, multi-platform device company. At both companies, Matricaria endured tough times and critics questioning his strategies, but was ultimately vindicated through the success of each company. Matricaria is the recipient of this year's Phoenix Lifetime Achievement award and spoke with IN VIVO about his career and the current state of the medical device industry.

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In the early 1990s, St. Jude Medical was the market leader in its sole product area: mechanical heart valves, which placed it among the most profitable of device companies. Demographics, however, limited heart valves' future growth opportunities and St. Jude needed to diversify, moving into cardiac rhythm management (CRM), cardiology catheters, and vascular access devices, while also expanding in cardiac surgery. The diversification process went anything but smoothly, the company missed its numbers, and investors were quick to punish St. Jude for its integration missteps. In the past year, however, the company has become one of Wall Street's few device darlings, ranking number one in 2000 for returns among device stocks. The company's growth is largely the result of sticking to a strategy that has St. Jude well-positioned in CRM's traditional markets, while also poised to pursue huge new opportunities in atrial fibrillation and, to a lesser degree, congestive heart failure. And St. Jude has not forgotten its base: cardiac surgery, where the company has introduced new sutureless anastomotic technology for minimally invasive coronary bypass surgery.

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