Success of x-ray retreads depends on creative thinking

July 25, 2001

Once a respected name in the world of radiography, Bennett X-ray no longer exists, at least not as a corporate entity. The assets, technical and human, that were once the company, however, live on at Hologic and Quantum Medical Imaging. The question

Once a respected name in the world of radiography, Bennett X-ray no longer exists, at least not as a corporate entity. The assets, technical and human, that were once the company, however, live on at Hologic and Quantum Medical Imaging. The question facing these companies is how they can succeed where Bennett and other x-ray companies failed.

Hologic acquired Bennett X-ray (and Lorad) when it purchased the U.S. assets of Trex Medical on that company’s demise. Hologic continued to market Bennett equipment under the Lorad label and still supports Bennett products.

Quantum was formed in 1999 by several former employees of Trex Medical’s Bennett division, including Scott Matovich, Bennett’s vice president for sales and marketing.

“Although many of us come from the days of Bennett X-ray, we really pride ourselves on saying we went out and designed our own product line,” said Matovich, president of Quantum. “Do people see Bennett in us? No.”

Today, Quantum is leveraging the knowledge derived from R&D-focused minds at Bennett and elsewhere to develop original products, Matovich said. The company’s long-term business plan focuses on developing digital imaging products for niche markets.

“Some of Bennett’s products had gotten dated, and there wasn’t much glamour in them,” Matovich said. “We’re probably one of the first new companies in a long time that said we would develop everything brand new and put some style in it.”

One of Bennett’s shortcomings was “astigmatism,” Matovich said. While Bennett kept one eye on its general practice roots and another on the future, Quantum is focused on providing new products and not looking back.

Setting itself up to accomplish that, Quantum began with a team of all-stars, one at every position, including manufacturing, development, sales, purchasing, and marketing, Matovich said. Its dealer network, which Matovich believes is more sophisticated than Bennett’s, is the crowning touch.

Hologic, on the other hand, has grown through a series of acquisitions. Its divisions include Hologic Radiographic Systems, which encompasses Direct Radiography Corp. (formerly a part of Sterling Diagnostic Imaging); Lorad; and Fluoroscan, the company’s first acquisition.

Through the years, new management has been put in place, major R&D investments have been made, and a wide range of products launched. The company’s presence at the 2000 RSNA exhibition was one of the most diverse at the show, encompassing two booths and myriad product lines reflecting its various acquisitions.

“The Trex assets were restructured the day we took over,” said Jack Cumming, president of Lorad, now a division of Hologic. “We shut down certain product lines, brought in new management, have continued to add management to the equation, and invested where investment was needed, including engineering and marketing.”

With Lorad, Hologic has a division with greater name recognition than the parent company. Rather than diminish the stature of Hologic, however, the Lorad name enhances it, Cumming said.

“We recognize that both names are strong,” Cumming said. “We’re known as ‘Lorad, a Hologic company.’ ”

Through the years, the key to Hologic’s success has been adjustment. It could not thrive in a highly competitive industry without changing with the times. Neither could it succeed by simply adjusting to fit the style of its acquisitions. Through it all, Hologic has had to take some risks.

That style is symbolized by Hologic’s use of Cumming, a Lorad executive, as an occasional media spokesperson for the parent firm. In recent days, Cumming has been rumored as a likely candidate to be named CEO for the company. Cumming would say only that an announcement may be forthcoming in the next week.