Mentor integrates Teknar ultrasound

July 14, 1993

Two and a half years after purchasing Teknar, Santa Barbara, CA-basedMentor is bringing that firm's ultrasound product line fully intothe fold. Mentor is reorganizing operations, placing the Teknarscanners in the hands of its existing urology sales and

Two and a half years after purchasing Teknar, Santa Barbara, CA-basedMentor is bringing that firm's ultrasound product line fully intothe fold. Mentor is reorganizing operations, placing the Teknarscanners in the hands of its existing urology sales and marketinggroup and consolidating scanner production with that of its otherproducts, according to Spencer M. Vawter, president of MentorUrology.

Urology ultrasound systems developed by Teknar, previouslya wholly owned Mentor subsidiary, will be sold as part of a broaderdiagnostic and therapy product stable handled by Mentor Urology.A second Teknar ultrasound line, designed for ophthalmology applications,will be shifted to Mentor's ophthalmic subsidiary, Mentor O&O,in Boston. Teknar's St. Louis facility will be closed.

"We have preserved the two major product lines out ofthe (Teknar) acquisition and positioned them where they belongin the corporation's strategic plan," Vawter told SCAN.

Mentor has three subsidiary corporations. Sales and marketingfor Teknar's urology ultrasound products will be shifted intothe Mentor Urology division at company headquarters in Santa Barbara.

Sales, service and production for Teknar's ophthalmic ultrasoundline will all be covered by Mentor O&O. Mentor's other groupsells plastic surgery products.

Mentor will move production and development for Teknar's urologyultrasound line to Mentor's 100,000-sq. ft. production facilityin Minneapolis.

"It's much more cost-effective to build the products ina plant you already own than in a plant where you have excessoverhead you don't need," Vawter said.

The initial reasoning for Mentor's acquisition of Teknar in1990 was to gain a better strategic positioning in the urologymarket (SCAN 11/7/90). This is being accomplished, Vawter said.

"The original intent of the acquisition goes forward,"he said.

Kenneth Head and Arthur Bollinger, who founded Teknar in 1976,retired about a year and a half ago.

U.S. urology sales are split into two groups. One staff of30 concentrates on Mentor's incontinence product line, focusingon rehabilitation centers and nursing homes. The second 30-personsales force calls on urologist offices, selling Mentor's penileimplant products as well as the Teknar ultrasound line. The Teknarline is targeted towards imaging prostate cancer and benign prostatichyperplasia.

"All we're doing is consolidating it under the sales forcewe already have," Vawter said. "We're maintaining salesspecialists out of the old Teknar line and ceding them into theorganization that's going into the urologist's office."

Market demand for ultrasound prostate scanning is not growingas fast as it once was, Vawter said. Urological use of ultrasoundwill increase, however, due to the imaging modality's wide rangeof applications. Mentor is looking to match its penile implantline with a new duplex Doppler system labelled ProScan Exel. Thesystem will be used for impotence diagnosis and management, hesaid.

"There are all kinds of applications urologists can perform(with ultrasound). They will be interested in using equipmentthat's priced in the range of the ProScan," Vawter said.

The urology ultrasound market became more competitive withthe entry of General Electric and Ausonics. However, Teknar andBruel & Kjaer appear to maintain the lead in installed base,Vawter said.

"In terms of who's selling the most per year, I wouldguess it's a horserace between Teknar, GE and Ausonics,"he said.

Teknar has no plans to venture into radiology ultrasound, unlikeformer competitor B&K. B&K, the former urology ultrasoundmarket leader, shifted emphasis to radiology applications afterprofit margins diminished due to price discounting implementedto capture market share.

In December, B&K Medical sold a majority interest to Analogic,a major supplier of MR and CT subsystems and ultrasound transducers.

BRIEFLY NOTED:

  • Siemens continues its drive to revamp U.S. medical systemsoperations, centralizing all American operations under SiemensMedical Systems in Iselin, NJ. Part of the restructuring, initiatedin April, involves bringing Siemens Gammasonics under SMS, withresponsibility for nuclear medicine and PACS (SCAN 4/7/93).

Gammasonics, which manufactures equipment for sale worldwide,is separate from the nuclear medicine division of SMS, althoughboth operations were based in Hoffman Estates, IL.

Effective this month, Thomas Cafarella, former senior vicepresident of sales at SMS, has been transferred to Hoffman Estatesas group vice president for the nuclear medicine group. Cafarellamanaged the nuclear division before being promoted to his positionin Iselin four years ago (SCAN 7/05/89).

It is not yet clear how the staffing change will impact integrationof Gammasonics and the SMS nuclear medicine sales and marketingeffort. Following Cafarella's move, Lee Rankin, former vice presidentof the roentgen angiography division, was named vice presidentof national sales in Iselin.

  • Although anticipated consolidation has yet to hit theimaging center industry with full force, multicenter firms continueto seek partners. Both Health Images and ImageAmerica reportedlast week that they have been discussing a possible merger orcombination of operations.

These two companies are among the largest and most successfulcenter chains. They, like most imaging services companies, havebeen hit by declining MRI procedure volume and reimbursement.Center companies must build the size of their service networksin order to compete for large purchasing orders under a restructuredhealth-care system and the growing role of managed care.

Nashville-based ImageAmerica said it is having discussionswith a number of other companies. Health Images, out of Atlanta,is attempting to maximize shareholder value through discussionswith ImageAmerica and others, the company said. HI opened an MRIfacility in Cape Coral, FL, last week, raising its total numberof imaging centers to 42.

  • Severe imaging market conditions may have proved too muchfor MRI Medical Diagnostics of San Diego. The small center firmsaid earlier this month that it had insufficient funds to meetcurrent obligations. An attempt by SCAN to contact the companylate last week found the firm's phone disconnected.

The five-year-old center firm was spun off from a Canadianparent two years ago. It had gained a listing on the NASDAQ stockexchange through the purchase of an existing public company withminimal activities in the mining field.

MRI MD had hoped to raise funds initially through a privateplacement of stock and then later with a secondary public stockoffering (SCAN 4/8/92).