Bill Cook makes and sells catheters on the floor of the Radiological Society of North America meeting in the fall of 1963.
Cook's first physician partner, Dr. Charles Dotter, gives a tour of his laboratory at the University of Oregon Health and Sciences Center.
Bill Cook hosts an "all-hands" meeting of every Cook Medical employee in 1976
1960s: How Cook Medical Got Its Start
“For me to make my product, all I needed was a blowtorch, a soldering iron, and a few little tools and fixtures I could make myself.”
—Bill Cook, Founder, Cook Medical
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 better than our founder, Bill Cook.
1970s: Unexpected Growth
“We purchased an extra whistling kettle, and just like that, we were able to double production.”
—Arne Molgaard-Nielsen, Research Manager, William Cook Europe
The growth of our 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’re expanding so fast, it’s hard to keep track.”
—Jeff McGough, Past President, Cook Urological
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: The World's Largest Privately Held Medical Device Manufacturer
“We must change our approach to doing business and assume our global role as a single Cook organization—not as an assortment of individual companies.”
—Bill Cook, Founder, Cook Medical
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. The ’90s were also a time when we became the world’s largest privately held medical device manufacturer. This news surprised many people, including us!
2000s: Improving Healthcare Delivery
“There are still a lot of good things going on. There are still a lot of areas that we have yet to scratch the surface on.”
—Scott Eells — Vice President, Operations
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
“We have the rare privilege of being able to really help people. When you can make a favorable impact on someone’s health, someone’s real health, that’s a pretty special thing.”
—Bruce Gingles, Vice President, Global Technology Assessment and Healthcare Policy
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.