Thomas E. Holloran:
Transcript of Interview Excerpt
Conversazione with Thomas Holloran, December 17, 1996, at The Bakken Library and Museum, Minneapolis, Minnesota.
“The competition, as the industry began to grow, was somewhat frightening because two of the almost immediately competitive companies were General Electric and Westinghouse. For Medtronic, which was still trying to emerge, to be competing with a GE and a Westinghouse and subsequently an American Optical was a little frightening, and yet it shouldn’t have been.
I think what Medtronic learned from that event was that it should not fear the large competitor; it should fear the small competitor. The large competitor was slow, bureaucratic, went with the status quo. Its engineers were primarily interested in preserving the funding of their projects. On the other hand, the small companies like Medtronic, coming out of the garage, because they had nothing, were always willing to risk it all, and leapfrog over what the current technology was. So as the competition matured, as we had not anticipated, GE and Westinghouse became concerned about the product liability issues, and they dropped out fairly early on.
Medtronic, for a time, was riding two very different product horses. One was implantable devices, including the pacemaker. Another was building large capital equipment for use in coronary care units, equipment that was very high ticket, that took significant capital for the company to build, needed to be proved in the field, installed, and needed a high service once in the field. The dilemma was which of these two businesses should be developed.”