IBJNews

Cook Group looking forward to next 50 years

Back to TopCommentsE-mailPrintBookmark and Share

For leaders of companies looking back on 50 years of existence, Cook Group President Kem Hawkins and Chairman Steve Ferguson spend a lot of time talking about the future.

"I think everybody understands here that new products and new treatments for patients are the key to our success," Ferguson told The Herald-Times. "And longevity."

Cook Group has had five decades of longevity and marked the 50th anniversary of its founding on Monday. Technically, the husband-and-wife team of Bill and Gayle Cook moved to start their company earlier in 1963, but the Indiana secretary of state certified its papers of incorporation on July 1 of that year.

In 1963, Cook Inc. began in the spare bedroom of an apartment the Cooks rented on East Second Street. It sold cardiovascular catheter equipment. Today, Cook Group includes companies that make a range of medical devices, as well as companies producing specialized industrial parts. And it has affiliates in the retail, real estate and transportation sectors.

Cook currently employs 11,100 people in locations around the world. Its 2013 sales will total about $2 billion, it said.

Cook Group has scheduled a series of events for its employees at different locations to celebrate its anniversary. Its Bloomington celebration is set for Aug. 10 at Indiana University's Assembly Hall and the Mellencamp Pavilion. As of Wednesday, 6,189 people had sent in RSVPs for that event.

The celebration isn't the part of Cook's future Ferguson and Hawkins like to discuss, however. They're more interested in the future of their work.

"A lot of things we have in progress are mechanical," Ferguson said. "But I think medicine is shifting to where it's much more science-based, and it's more technology."

Cook Pharmica, a Cook Group subsidiary founded in 2004, has the group ready to keep up that shift, said Hawkins. So does Cook General BioTechnology LLC, a company formed when Cook Group acquired the assets of Indianapolis-based General BioTechnology LLC.

"They have the ability to freeze cells, and they worked with lots of different types of cells," Hawkins said. "Stem-like cells and also tissue-bank cells. Those cells have the strongest ability to create, if you will."

Outside of biotechnology, Cook has more than 450 device-related product development projects. Hawkins labeled 15 to 20 of them "disruptive technologies" that could significantly change patient care.

He also said Cook is dedicated to keeping alive the entrepreneurial spirit of Bill Cook, who died in April 2011.

Entrepreneurship is important as a Cook value and as a business plan, according to Ferguson. Wire guides, which were a new product in 1963, are now commodities and not cash cows, he said, adding that Cook must draw 75 percent of its income from new products.

Cook Group isn't without challenges on its plate. Ferguson listed the 2.3 percent federal excise tax on the sale of medical devices in the United States and a regulatory climate that makes introducing new medical products domestically a slow process.

"We used to introduce 100 percent of our devices in the United States first and take them international," he said. "What's happened with the FDA process is, because it's less efficient, companies including us are introducing 100 percent of our devices outside the United States."

That tends to drive facility expansions that allow new products to be made overseas, according to Ferguson. Cook manufactures more than 80 percent of its devices in the United States, he said.

It has had to pay the device tax on domestic sales since the beginning of the year. So far, Cook has paid about $7 million because of the tax, and it will likely pay between $15 million and $18 million by the end of the year. Cook has been leading a charge to push Congress to repeal the medical device tax.

That $15 million to $18 million has to come from somewhere. It affects Cook's ability to invest in communities, research and development, new construction and employees, Ferguson said.

But he was adamant that Cook's workforce is safe.

"We never laid anybody off, and we don't anticipate any downsizing on our part here," he said. "We don't anticipate it, and we're not going to do it."

Indiana's workforce has been a key part of Cook's survival and growth, according to Ferguson.

Universities that train engineers help that workforce, he said. So does Indiana's history of handcrafting.

Ferguson described Cook's local production workers as "astounding."

"Sewing or putting catheters or putting tips on," he said. "They can sit there with those really small things and they'll do 10 in 30 minutes and it will take me two hours to do one."

Longtime Cook employees, meanwhile, can tell a story or two of their own about Cook Group's growth. Brian Aldrich, a product manager, has been with Cook for 35 years. He talked about working in sales decades ago and going to great lengths to spread the Cook name.

"When I first started with the company, my name was not Brian Aldrich," he said. "It was Brian Cook, because that is what I represented to the customers."

Employees also described Cook as being a flat organization without a massive hierarchy. It's a place geared toward solving problems, and it's not uncommon to find a worker taking on new roles, according to Moises Cruz, a global digital product manager who came to Cook with a master's degree in business administration.

"The MBA setting is another way of thinking," he said. "You're thinking about your signing bonus. When I came here, it was a big change. And I discovered a great group of people."

ADVERTISEMENT

Post a comment to this story

COMMENTS POLICY
We reserve the right to remove any post that we feel is obscene, profane, vulgar, racist, sexually explicit, abusive, or hateful.
 
You are legally responsible for what you post and your anonymity is not guaranteed.
 
Posts that insult, defame, threaten, harass or abuse other readers or people mentioned in IBJ editorial content are also subject to removal. Please respect the privacy of individuals and refrain from posting personal information.
 
No solicitations, spamming or advertisements are allowed. Readers may post links to other informational websites that are relevant to the topic at hand, but please do not link to objectionable material.
 
We may remove messages that are unrelated to the topic, encourage illegal activity, use all capital letters or are unreadable.
 

Messages that are flagged by readers as objectionable will be reviewed and may or may not be removed. Please do not flag a post simply because you disagree with it.

Sponsored by
ADVERTISEMENT

facebook - twitter on Facebook & Twitter

Follow on TwitterFollow IBJ on Facebook:
Follow on TwitterFollow IBJ's Tweets on these topics:
 
Subscribe to IBJ
  1. Uh, sorry Johnnie, but you are incorrect. Despite the assertions by yourself and various defenders and captains, sports attendance is NOT off significantly at most sporting events in the US. Variances in attendance has been in the range of single digits, both + & - for years now. MLB has had most of its best overall attendance nubers in the last decade, and that trend has been consistent for most major sporting events. The number one issue cited by most fans when asked about attendance is the overall cost of attending. The presence of HD and big screen televisions in home doesn't even register, as a factor for not attending an event. VALUE in the product is the key, and apparently is something lacking in the current ICS. What other explanation is there when with what is routinely touted as the "best" racing on the planet, fans are staying away in DROVES. A "close" title battle into the last event at Fontana, with the "cars and stars" of the ICS, and who showed up? MAYBE 8K. Sorry, but HD TV isn't to blame for that kind of fan apathy.

  2. Do you need finance to establish your business ? Are you interested in getting a loan at 3% from our private company? If so please Email: suntrust_oil@blumail.org

  3. If she was worth the $ the public outcry over direct tv dropping them would have kept them on their dishes as we have seen with other companies. I too quit watching channel 13 after she showed up since I left channel 8 because of her all show rather than production results. When Randy on 8 corrected her she had a big head and incorrectly challenged his correction for pronunciation of a city. Other antics while she matures was too much for me with her very inaccurate forecasts. All the forecasters were predicting rain until Thursday except Chris. They predicted sunny on Thursday but instead of rain until Thursday upon which the sun would finally make it out in full glory Chris was right on the money just as I too predicted looking at the radar on weather.gov. One thing I love about Angela is the fear you can see in her every time it thunders in the winter. It far exceeds the entertainment value of her body language (high heel noise drags, depression, etc) when her forecasts are so incorrect. Her hair stands on end, you have to see it!!!

  4. Good Day, Apply For A Loan I am Mr Fernadez Antonio, a private Loan lender and a cooperate financial for real estate and any kinds of business financing. I also offer Loans to individuals, Firms and cooperate bodies at 3% interest rate We offer any kind of loans. email us via fernadezloaninvest@outlook.com LOAN APPLICATION FORM First name:......................... Middle name:......................... Last name:........................................ Date of birth (yyyy-mm-dd):....................... Gender:........................................... Marital status:................................... Total Amount Needed............................... Loan Duration.................................... Address:.......................................... City:............................................. State/province:................................... Zip/postal code:.................................. Country:.......................................... Phone:............................................ Fax:.............................................. Mobile/cellular:.................................. Monthly Income.................................... Occupation:....................................... Best Regard, Mr Fernadez Antonio.

  5. i will love to share my testimony to you all the people in world i got married to my husband about 2 year ago we start having problems at home like we stop sleeping on the same bed,fighting about little things he always comes home late at night,drinking too much and sleeping with other women out side i have never love any man in my life except him. he is the father of my child and i don't want to loose him because we have worked so hard together to become what we are and have today .few month ago he now decided to live me and the kid,being a single mother can be hard sometimes and so i have nobody to turn to and i was heart broken.i called my mom and explain every thing to her,my mother told me about DR.okoro how he helped her solve the problem between her and my dad i was surprise about it because they have been without each other for three and a half years and it was like a miracle how they came back to each other. i was directed to DR. okoro on his email:okorospell@gmail.com and explain everything to him,so he promise me not to worry that he will cast a spell and make things come back to how we where so much in love again and that it was another female spirit that was controlling my husband he told me that my problem will be solved within two days if i believe i said OK So he cast a spell for me and after two days my love came back asking me to forgive him i Am so happy now. so that why i decided to share my experience with every body that have such problem contact Dr okoro the great spell caster on his email addresses spellcasterforlove@outlook.com

ADVERTISEMENT