AngioDynamics Inc. President and CEO Joe DeVivo doesn’t flinch when asked about his firm’s future in the Glens Falls area.
“It’s going to be a hell of a company,” he said during an interview Wednesday at AngioDynamics’ Glens Falls facility off Dix Avenue. “We’ve gone through the pain this year to build a foundation. Today, I think we have a strong operating team that’s ready for growth, and now it’s just a matter of us being opportunistic, letting our (research and development) pay off, letting our top line grow, and then, as we grow, so does our footprint, and so do the opportunities.”
AngioDynamics was founded in 1988 by Eamonn Hobbs, who today is CEO of Delcath Systems Inc., another medical device maker with operations in Catheter Valley.
AngioDynamics’ product portfolio has grown over the years to include a range of high-tech catheters and devices for treating periphery vascular disease and cancer.
Originally known as the North American Medical Instruments Corp., the Navilyst facility is no stranger to buyouts. The AngioDynamics purchase is the fourth such deal struck for the plant since 1998.
Signs outside the Glens Falls manufacturing plant still bear the Navilyst name. That brand came from the
venture capital firm that bought the facility from Boston Scientific in 2008.
Inside, however, things have changed markedly in the five months since AngioDynamics took ownership.
Derry Cooke, who now oversees both the Glens Falls and Queensbury facilities, has headed up the Glens Falls operation for more than 20 years.
He grew up in Scotia and was managing a battery plant for Eveready in Vermont when friends in the Glens Falls area sent him an advertisement for a job running the NAMIC plant, he said.
“It was an opportunity for my wife and I to get closer to our roots,” he said. “I came down for an interview and got the job, and I’ve been here ever since.”
He was in charge as the previous owner, Avista Partners, a venture capital group, made several cuts to the local facility’s payroll.
“There were some very difficult years, being owned by a private equity,” Cooke said Wednesday. A majority of those laid off over that time have been brought back to work, and the tone of “water cooler” talk inside the Glens Falls facility has changed from somber to upbeat, Cooke said.
“It’s a much different feel when you’re in with a company that’s in a growth mode with a cadence of product launches and looking at mergers and acquisitions,” Cooke said. “That resonates all the way down to the people that are on the product line floor. It’s a different conversation than we’ve had in the previous five years.”
And there has been plenty to talk about, though a combination of the NAMIC facility and AngioDynamics had been speculated about by employees for years, Cooke said.
The work to combine the firms went smoothly, in large part because of planning done beforehand, but also because of the nature of Catheter Valley itself, said Scott Etlinger, AngioDynamics’ senior vice president of global operations.
“The integration of AngioDynamics and Navilyst, from a cultural perspective, was one of the smoothest I’ve been involved in,” Etlinger said.
The medical device manufacturing business cluster in the region has allowed workers to move among the various firms over the decades.
Etlinger said many employees of AngioDynamics had previously worked at Navilyst, and vice versa. That helped eliminate some of the rivalries that can occur when the acquired company is less familiar with its buyer, he said.
Also, in announcing the buyout, AngioDynamics immediately announced both local facilities would continue operating as the corporation moves forward.
That wasn’t just a move to protect jobs, Etlinger said. Each facility has its strengths, and it’s the marriage of those strengths that made the buyout attractive in the first place.
“The products that are manufactured here, and the products that are manufactured over in Queensbury, there’s enough differentiation where we actually get to leverage each site for the betterment of the business, not only economically, but for the delivery of our products,” he said.
Each facility has also seen growth since the purchase.
This week, the firm announced the launch of the BioFlo catheter line, which significantly reduces the chances for blood clots during medical procedures. That product is being made in the Glens Falls facility.
The company closed on the purchase Tuesday of Vortex Medical Inc., a Massachusetts company that makes a device that enables safer, more reliable removal of life-threatening blood clots.
There’s also new work heading for Queensbury. Located on County Line Road, that facility is gearing up to make lasers that power AngioDynamics’ VenaCure system for eliminating varicose veins.
The lasers had been made in the United Kingdom, but a new production floor has been readied in Queensbury for manufacture of the device.
Together, the Glens Falls and Queensbury facilities employ a total of about 900, and DeVivo said that number will grow as the company’s product portfolio expands.
He didn’t want to give a specific growth rate, however, saying it depends on how quickly new products take off — and on how many other acquisitions take place.
“These are high-paying, skilled jobs,” DeVivo said. “We’re in a very highly regulated environment. We don’t make consumer products, so we’re very regulated, whether it’s by the FDA or by our own company regulations. It requires a high-quality, sophisticated workforce ... and we need talented people to help us grow.”
More specifically, DeVivo said there’s likely an expansion coming for Queensbury, once AngioDynamics gains some revenue momentum.
“In the next couple of years, we’re going to be adding to the Queensbury facility,” he said. “The whole front end, I’d like to have the type of an office complex that you see here (in Glens Falls) ... when it’s the right time. And I think, as our facilities get closer to capacity, we have land around both, and we can use that.”