Tetrad revamps management teamafter disappointing product launch

August 16, 1995

Vendor picked wrong year to go commercialThe founders of Tetrad in Englewood, CO, have reassumed controlover the company's management after the sales team recruited tocommercialize its unique laparoscopic ultrasound scanner was unableto

Vendor picked wrong year to go commercial

The founders of Tetrad in Englewood, CO, have reassumed controlover the company's management after the sales team recruited tocommercialize its unique laparoscopic ultrasound scanner was unableto cultivate a market.

Dave Murray resigned as chief executive in June. His departurefollowed the exit of three other high-level officials: controllerRichard Dutkiewicz, director of marketing John Shishilla, andvice president of sales and marketing Tim O'Sullivan.

Kinney Johnson, one of the firm's initial investors, steppedin as acting chief executive. Dennis Dietz is the new COO andSaid Azim is executive vice president. Dietz and Azim were employedas engineers by Technicare Ultrasound in Denver before helpingorganize Tetrad.

Martin Warwick was promoted to director of sales and marketing.Warwick was an Acuson sales representative and established itscustomer education center. He was recruited to handle Tetrad'scustomer program in 1993.

The personnel moves were made to reduce Tetrad's managementoverhead, according to Dietz. He admitted that the company movedtoo fast and aggressively to commercialize the firm's E/U operating-roomultrasound system and laparoscopic probes.

Hospital administrators were generally conservative about acquiringnew equipment last year, according to Dietz. They were unshakablein their resistance to new technology, even when cost-savingscould be proven, he said.

"1995 was not the right year to make a market move,"he said.

In July of last year, Tetrad had nine installed systems, mainlyat teaching hospitals, O'Sullivan said (SCAN 6/15/94). Customersincluded Memorial Sloan-Kettering in New York City, Barnes Hospitalin St. Louis, Lutheran General Hospital in Chicago and the Universityof Southern California Medical Center in Los Angeles. Accordingto company literature, Tetrad had eight customer sites in theU.S. and two in Europe as of June 1995.

Despite a slow start, Dietz is optimistic about his company'sprospects. He cites recent studies that verify the value of laparoscopicultrasound for detection and instrument guidance in the treatmentof solid-organ cancerous lesions. He expects that success withlaparoscopic staging of tumors will be followed by ultrasound-guidedlaparoscopic delivery of therapy to the cancerous sites.

The $120,000 Tetrad E/U is the first ultrasound scanner designedspecifically for OR applications. Eleven types of electronic probeswere developed for various open-incision, burrhole and laparoscopicapplications.

In May, the Food and Drug Administration granted clearancefor a 10-mm-diameter forward- and side-looking transducer alongwith needle guidance and biopsy attachments. The unique designenables the surgeon to observe the needle through the entire routeto its target, Dietz said.