Jan Keltjens' first official day as the new president/CEO of AngioDynamics (Queensbury, New York) is still more than a month away, but already he knows what his first order of business will be: "Really sitting down, starting with the leadership, and meeting as many people as possible."
AngioDynamics reported Wednesday that its board has appointed Keltjens as president/CEO effective March 1. He will succeed Eamonn Hobbs, a co-founder of AngioDynamics, who has led the company for the past 21 years and will become vice chairman of the board.
Keltjens told Medical Device Daily and a few other media sources during a conference call Wednesday that he plans on learning about AngioDynamics by spending time with its people and getting an "understanding of the situation."
"I like to sit down with people, hear the stories and there are a lot of things that AngioDynamics has done extremely well ... it didn't get successful by accident. I want to understand that," Keltjens said.
Keltjens has served as president/CEO of CryoCath Technologies (Montreal, Quebec) since early 2007. CryoCath develops cryotherapy products for treating cardiac arrhythmias and was recently acquired by Medtronic (Minneapolis).
He previously served in various leadership positions at Cordis (Miami Lakes, Florida), a Johnson & Johnson (New Brunswick, New Jersey) company, including his last position as worldwide general manager of Cordis Neurovascular. He first joined Cordis in 1995 as VP and managing director responsible for international manufacturing and distribution operations, as well as R&D. He was promoted to VP of European marketing and VP of worldwide strategic marketing for Cordis Cardiology.
Before joining Cordis, Keltjens led R&D departments at Unilever (London) and was managing director of a group of small high-tech companies.
While Keltjens was careful not to divulge any specific goals for the company, he did mention that he is "used to seeing a certain percentage of revenue coming in from outside the U.S." and that "I'd say the percentage of out of U.S. revenue in AngioDynamics is a minimum of what I would expect."
Challenges the company faces are similar to other medical device companies, Keltjens said, such as determining which products the company should invest in and what the growth opportunities for those products are. He also emphasized that a company has an obligation to prove to society, patients, physicians, and payers that the therapy it develops is effective and efficient so evidenced-based medicine will become more and more important, he noted.
Keltjens also declined to name, when asked, which companies he considers to be AngioDynamics' closest competitors, saying that he would rather "focus on our own strength, focus on our own future, be aware of competition – don't get me wrong – but be aware of our own strength."
Keltjens said he is attracted to AngioDynamics for its interesting growth opportunities, particularly in the oncology space. Specifically he mentioned the company's IRE technology, calling it a potential "game-changing technology addressing significant unmet clinical needs in the oncology field. Also, he said, "A strong balance sheet presents more opportunities for growth through carefully targeted and well-executed acquisitions."
AngioDynamics added a new cancer treatment technology called IRE, or irreversible electroporation, to its pipeline when it acquired Oncobionic (Berkeley, California) in May. The deal was first disclosed in October 2006.
Similar to thermal ablation technologies, IRE uses needles and image guidance, but instead of cooking or freezing the tissue, IRE destroys the targeted cells without damaging tissue and structures such as blood vessels and ducts. In IRE, needle electrodes are placed through the skin by image guidance in the center or at the edge of the targeted tissue. A certain electrical field is then generated within the electrode array, causing permanent pores in the cell membranes. The dead cells are left in the body to be removed by the body's natural immune system (Medical Device Daily, Oct. 19, 2006).
"Jan's appointment is the culmination of an extensive search for the best candidate to build on the successes of Eamonn's founding leadership and take us to the next level in the company's growth and development," said Vincent Bucci, AngioDynamics' chairman of the board. "Eamonn built AngioDynamics into a $200-million enterprise, and we believe Jan is the right person to take us to the half-billion-dollar revenue level and beyond. Jan brings to the company extensive global operating and managerial experience, as well as very strong industry background and a continuous track record of success. The entire board of directors joins me in welcoming Jan to the company, and we look forward to working with him."
At the time of Wednesday's conference call, Keltjens said he and Hobbs had met only via e-mail, however the two were scheduled to meet later in the day.
"Jan Keltjens brings to our company a comprehensive understanding of our current markets and during his career has even managed an angiographic catheter product line," Hobbs said in a company statement. "I look forward to working with Jan on a smooth transition of the CEO's responsibilities, as well as refining my ongoing role with the company in the development of markets for IRE technology."
AngioDynamics' product line includes radiofrequency ablation and irreversible electroporation resection systems, vascular access products, angiographic products and accessories, dialysis products, angioplasty products, drainage products, thrombolytic products, embolization products and venous products.