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.
Cardiac Rhythm Disease Management (CRDM) — 37 percent of revenue
Spinal and Biologics — 22 percent
Cardiovascular — 16 percent
Neuromodulation — 10 percent
Diabetes — 7 percent
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
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.