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ATL's Guisinger leaves following hot HDI launch


After seven years of helping ATL build its position as a premiumradiology ultrasound supplier, Allen W. Guisinger resigned lastmonth from his position as executive vice president of sales &marketing. Guisinger spent a year as president of ATL.

After seven years of helping ATL build its position as a premiumradiology ultrasound supplier, Allen W. Guisinger resigned lastmonth from his position as executive vice president of sales &marketing. Guisinger spent a year as president of ATL.

Guisinger will continue to devote a quarter of his time toconsulting with ATL and other companies, but intends to directmore of his attention to personal efforts outside of the business.He will not consult for ultrasound companies in competition withATL.

"ATL has been a very intense time, and I have enjoyedit tremendously," he told SCAN. "It is a hard act tofollow."

A highlight of Guisinger's career with ATL was the company'ssuccessful introduction of the high-definition imaging, broad-bandwidthupgrade to its Ultramark 9 scanner last year (SCAN 4/24/91). ATLhad struggled for several years to work out problems with itsolder Ultramark 8 system while trying to develop a new generationof technology to compete on the high end.

"The (HDI) introduction was very successful, but it wasa gutsy move," Guisinger said. "Even as we planned theintroduction with a big HDI day (at ATL headquarters in Bothell,WA), we weren't exactly sure how well it would be received clinically.The clinical work was not done until six or eight weeks beforethat day. We had all these key physicians in and, in fact, theysaid some real nice things and showed great images."

Through his decade-long career in ultrasound, Guisinger hasseen the advantage a firm can enjoy if it is independent and focusedon the technology. He has worked for two large drug companies,Johnson & Johnson and Squibb, both of which decided that ultrasounddidn't fit well with pharmaceuticals. Johnson & Johnson finallyshut down J&J Ultrasound, while Squibb spun off its medicalequipment business into independent Westmark International fiveyears ago.

"We were the bad boys on the block (at Squibb). We weren'tmaking money and we were a different kind of business they didn'tunderstand. Squibb investors didn't want to invest in both high-tech(medical equipment) and pharmaceuticals at the same time,"Guisinger said.

Squibb chairman and CEO Dennis C. Fill was responsible foracquiring both ATL and obstetric ultrasound leader ADR, whereGuisinger first worked in ultrasound. ADR was merged into theATL operations. Fill successfully navigated the separation fromSquibb and ensured that ATL had the focus and resources to developas a leader in the modality, Guisinger said.

"ATL's revenues in 1985 were only $77 million and we werelosing barrels of money. Now we are well over $300 million (inannual revenues) and have gained a reputation for technical leadership,"he said.

This summer, ATL separated from its former Squibb partner,patient monitoring company Spacelabs, and now functions as anindependent, publicly traded company. During the five years underWestmark, Squibb's international ultrasound company, Squibb MedicalSystems, was integrated into ATL to create a unified worldwideposition in the modality.

ULTRASOUND MARKETING HAS BECOME more personal and more targetedto physician groups over the years, Guisinger noted. One programhe launched while president of ATL is routine quarterly communicationwith key physicians. Doctors are kept up to date on technicaldevelopments and presented with videos showing ATL images.

"This has been a very effective program. I think it hadsomething to do with why so many did show up at HDI day,"he said.

The HDI launch was also helped through an effort by ATL to fullysupport clinical researchers with training and system technicalservice, he said.

"We made sure that the (HDI) systems were working well,people were trained well on it, and that physicians had good imagerecording devices and other types of support," he said.

While ultrasound vendors continue to make use of image-buildingadvertising campaigns, this aspect of marketing has declined oflate, he said.

"It is harder and harder to justify the big mass ads,"Guisinger said. "We are now able to focus on active accounts.We have active account lists and can do targeted promotion tothem with mailings or personal phone calls. This has proven moreeffective."

Continued expansion in clinical applications and untapped internationalopportunities will help ensure that ultrasound sales grow at ahealthy pace, although perhaps not as fast as during the lastfew years, he said.

"Everybody acknowledges that some areas (of the ultrasoundmarket) are a little slower than they have been. I don't thinkwe are going to see the 25% growth rates we saw a few years ago,"he said. "Those (growth spurts) were caused by a buoyanteconomy and major technological shifts like color Doppler in cardiologyand radiology. But ultrasound is a superb technology that willcontinue to enjoy relatively more favorable economic factors thanother products."

Much of ultrasound's future growth will come from internationalsales, he predicted. Some parts of the world still have very fewcolor-flow ultrasound systems. Over half the world's populationaccounts for less than 10% of ultrasound sales, leaving significantroom for expansion, he said.

Although the low purchase price and siting costs of ultrasoundare favorable factors in the developing world, there has alsobeen growth in demand for the capabilities of relatively expensivepremium ultrasound systems, Guisinger said.

"While in the past they (users in developing countries)bought mostly low-end systems, they buy all levels of systemsnow. We are seeing a lot of interest in the high end. Color isdoing that."

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