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1960s : How Cook Medical got its start

Bill Cook speaks about the company's early days at our 40th anniversary celebration.

Bill Cook met Dr. Charles Dotter at a Radiological Society meeting in Chicago. This chance meeting started a relationship based on a shared vision—one that kicked off the field of minimally invasive medicine. Cook Medical was the first company to package the three primary components for percutaneous catheterization— needles, wire guides, and catheters — in one convenient set.  No one tells the story of our company’s humble beginnings than our founder, Bill Cook.

1970s : A time of intense expansion

The growth of the company surprised many people, including us.

When the company started in the 60’s, Bill Cook thought his business might eventually be able to support his family and maybe two or three other people. He was quickly forced to revise that estimate. The 1970’s was the decade when Cook expanded to Europe and Asia. (Not bad for a company that started in the spare bedroom of an apartment.) By the end of the ’70s, the volume of products that Cook Medical shipped allowed doctors to perform 2,000 cardiovascular catheterizations per day.

1980s: Getting products to physicians faster

We have a very specific way of developing our products and devices.

In the 1980’s doctors needed new and better equipment to help their patients, especially patients in underserved specialties like gastrointestinal endoscopy, urology and women’s health. These doctors often approached Cook because of our reputation for customizing products. Cook’s research and development facility, MED Institute, was founded in the ’80s in response to this demand for new products. Med Institute helped us more quickly take products from concept to production.

1990s: A time of tremendous growth

We introduced the world’s first intravascular coronary stent in the ’90s. The rest of the decade we did business on a steadily increasing scale. We added more companies, medical specialties and employees and we got better at obtaining and defending patents. It was also during this time that Cook Canada, Inc, formed a small manufacturing company to supply lead aprons and Cook Australia began a division to develop, manufacture, and distribute programmable pumps and infusion devices outside the United States. These and other efforts showed that further expansion of the global market for Cook products was underway.

2000s: Improving healthcare delivery

A lot has changed in the 50 years Cook has been in business, but we have always worked with physicians to develop new ways to improve minimally invasive medicine. The future won’t change that focus, but it will require more than just innovative medical devices. It will require us to develop new treatments for chronic disease, like drug- or cell-based therapies, for chronic disease. It will also require working with the entire healthcare supply chain to find better and faster ways to get products to patients.

2010s: The Future of Minimally Invasive Medicine

Former Cook President Kem Hawkins explains one of the concepts that drives everything we do: Tomorrow can always be better than today.

In the early 2000s, the healthcare industry came under increasing pressure to treat a growing number of patients with less funding. This pressure led Cook Medical to look beyond the devices we made and to look at the ways we deliver those devices to customers. We created our Healthcare Business Solutions division to work with our customers to improve the supply chain.

About our Founder

Many things have been said about Bill Cook. Steve Ferguson, Chairman of Cook Group, wrote some thoughts about his friend in an e-mail shortly after Bill died.