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Winston R. Wallin:
Transcript of Interview Excerpt

Conversazione with Winston Wallin on October 21, 1997 at the Minnesota History Center in St. Paul, Minnesota.

“The thing to remember about the medical device industry, if you really want to remember anything about the medical device industry, is that it is still very much of a growth industry. In a growth industry, you either grow or you die, and it’s much easier to grow. It’s much more appealing than to not do anything and then find that all your competitors grow, and then one day the phone rings and someone wants to buy your company, and that’s the end of that. In fact, back in ‘85, Medtronic was worth about $400 million. It’s now $22 billion. That’s, I think, a fifty-five times increase in the value of Medtronic in twelve years. I used to worry about someone buying the company when it was only $400 million, and so one of the first things I did was get the board together and understand the poison pill, and we put the poison pill in and broadcast it so people wouldn’t think it’s going to be a pushover. Then I always had the thought that if anyone did call and want to buy the company—and I know some people were looking at Medtronic—that I would say, “Well, you know, I’ll get together with you, but I’ve got to get this damned recall out of the way first.” [Laughter]

Another thing to remember is demand is driven by patient needs, it’s driven by age. The older you get, generally, the greater the needs, and it’s driven by the affluence in the countries, the United States and all the countries in the world. All of those things are heading up. Certainly, unless something remarkable happens, twenty years from now the world will be much more affluent than it is today. There’ll be lots of countries that will be able to buy relatively expensive devices. So the demographics and everything are still very much in place and very positive.”


Biographical Information

Winston R. Wallin was born in Minnesota and graduated from a Minnesota university. He was a grain trader, executive, and board member for a major Minnesota food company. From the late 1970s until the mid 1990s, he was a board member, and served the last five years as a chief executive, of Medtronic.

Winston R. Wallin