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Medtronic (MDT)

By Alleen Brown

Fortune 500 rank: 217

Founders: Eric Bakken and Palmer Hermundslie

CEO: William A. Hawkins

710 Medtronic Pkwy
Minneapolis, MN 55432

What it does:
Medtronic develops and manufactures medical equipment.

Six Businesses:
Cardiac Rhythm Disease Management (CRDM) — 37 percent of revenue
Spinal and Biologics — 22 percent
Cardiovascular — 16 percent
Neuromodulation — 10 percent
Diabetes  — 7 percent
Surgical Technologies

Number of facilities:
250 manufacturing facilities, sales offices, research centers, education centers and administration facilities with customers in 120 countries

Total employees: 38,000

Minnesota employees: Around 7,800

Revenue: $12.2 billion

Net Income: $2.8 billion

3 Months
1 Year
5 Years

S & P Data from October 2008. Chart by Denise Rath.

According to the company’s Website, Medtronic started in 1949 as a medical equipment repair shop, operated out of a garage in Northeast Minneapolis. Eric Bakken, a graduate student at the University of Minnesota studying electrical engineering, quit school to open the shop with his brother-in-law, Palmer Hermundslie, who left a job at a lumber company.

What put Medtronic on the map was the development of the battery-powered pacemaker in the mid 1950s. At the time, pacemakers existed but were bulky and had to be plugged into a wall. Without them, heart block occurred in 10 percent of patients who had corrective heart surgery. Working with Dr. C. Walton Lillehei, Bakken designed a lighter, wearable version powered by batteries.

By the 1960s Medtronic pacemakers were used throughout the world. By the end of the decade, Medtronic owned the rights to the first internal pacemaker and manufactured seven other medical devices. Today they are the largest medical device company in the world.

Alleen Brown is a senior journalism and global studies student at the University of Minnesota.

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