ATL’s chief executive Fill to retire as part of corporate succession plan

September 16, 1998

Philips signs off on CEO’s replacementIn a move that took few by surprise, ATL Ultrasound chairman and CEO Dennis Fill this month announced his plans to retire as chief executive of one of the world’s most prominent ultrasound vendors.

Philips signs off on CEO’s replacement

In a move that took few by surprise, ATL Ultrasound chairman and CEO Dennis Fill this month announced his plans to retire as chief executive of one of the world’s most prominent ultrasound vendors. ATL characterized the move as part of a corporate succession plan that was under consideration before the company agreed to be acquired by Philips Medical Systems in July (SCAN 8/5/98).

Fill is one of the longest serving chief executives in medical imaging, holding down the top spot at ATL for the past 12 years. He has seen the company undergo several evolutions, first as the subsidiary of pharmaceutical firm Squibb, then as an independent company following the spin-off of the company in 1992. Finally, ATL is poised to become a subsidiary again once the Philips acquisition deal is finalized.

Replacing Fill will be Timothy Mickelson, a 20-year medical technology executive whose previous position was president and COO of Marquette Medical Systems. Mickelson will join ATL on Oct. 1 in the interim role of executive vice president, and will assume the top spot at ATL on Jan. 1. By then, Philips will have completed its acquisition of ATL, leaving Mickelson as head of a subsidiary rather than of an independent company.

Fill and ATL’s board began discussing his retirement as long as a year ago, the 69-year-old executive told SCAN. The board had an executive succession plan under debate when Philips approached the company about an acquisition, he said. Philips had no objections to the plan and endorsed the selection of Mickelson.

Fill’s involvement with ATL began in 1980. He was president of Squibb when the drug firm bought ATL, and he remained with the ultrasound vendor when Squibb spun off ATL and SpaceLabs Medical in 1986 under the aegis of holding company Westmark International. Fill continued with ATL when it split off from SpaceLabs in 1992 (SCAN 2/26/92).

Fill believes his greatest achievement at ATL was in directing the company’s push into digital ultrasound technology. ATL decided to develop digital technology while it was still part of Squibb, and commercialized digital ultrasound scanners before its competitors.

“That really has been the biggest single step responsible for ATL’s success, because the clinical value of all-digital ultrasound has now been proven to all concerned,” Fill said.

The greatest change that Fill has witnessed over the years has been the expanding role of ultrasound technology in medical imaging, he said.

“Ultrasound is growing faster than any of the other imaging modalities, and I think that is because it has such a broad clinical range,” Fill said. “You can do so much more with ultrasound at no added cost—in fact at a lower cost in some instances—than you could 12 years ago.”

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