Covidien buys surgical device company Durham businessman helped lead

Apr. 16, 2014 @ 09:54 AM

New Wave Surgical, a Florida-based surgical device company that was co-run by a Durham-based real estate investment executive, sold recently to the global health care products company Covidien.
Andrew Widmark was chairman and co-CEO of the Pompano Beach, Fla.,-based New Wave Surgical before the acquisition. The company developed and sold a device designed to keep laparoscopic surgical lenses clean and clear of fog.
The product was invented R. Alexander Gomez, a former surgical technician who said he left medical school to launch the company. Gomez said that as a surgical tech, he saw surgeons sticking endoscopes into buckets of hot water said saw an opportunity for a product. The company had a prototype and U.S. Food and Drug Administration approval when Widmark got involved.
In Durham, Widmark is president and CEO of Mark Properties, a real estate management and investment firm primarily focused on shopping centers. The company has also renovated several downtown properties. Widmark said he taught as a professor of the practice of real estate at Duke, but is not actively teaching now.
He had a connection to one of New Wave Surgical’s principals through a separate real estate deal that never panned out, he said. The company had a good product, seemed to be meeting a need, but needed management, he said. Widmark raised investment dollars for the company.
“So it was a gamble, obviously,” Widmark said.
Gomez said Widmark started as a mentor, became the company’s board chairman, and later its chief executive as the company needed more investment dollars. Last year, Widmark and Gomez became co-CEOs.
The company saw rapid growth, Widmark said, growing from five or six employees to more than 150. Their sales went from zero to “substantial” in the same period. Gomez said its revenues grew from $1 million in 2010 to $21 million last year.
Widmark said a key decision was bringing product manufacturing in-house. By assembling products from parts shipped in by other companies, he said they were able to cut costs and grow profitably. They also brought on a seasoned sales and marketing staff member, which was a “major move” for the company.
“I’ve loved doing this,” Widmark said. “It’s been a wonderful success. I’m pleased for everybody that’s been involved.”
Widmark is no longer an employee of the Florida-based business. He declined to give or confirm any financial details of the deal and deferred comment to Covidien.
John Jordan, a spokesman for the company, declined to disclose financial details of the acquisition. The Miami Herald and another outlet reported that the acquisition price was more than $100 million.
Covidien is an Ireland-based health care products company, develops, makes and sells medical devices and supplies. In fiscal year 2013, its net sales were more than $10 billion and it reported earnings of $1.7 billion.

New Wave had 150 employees before the acquisition, Jordan said. As part of Covidien, he said the company doesn’t need the same level of leadership. As a result, approximately 20 of the New Wave team will not be joining Covidien.