Much like medical science itself, Cardiac Science Corp. has seen a lot of changes throughout its history. Formed in Irvine, Calif., in 1991 to develop FDA-approved rhythm-analysis software – which is the foundation for the first fully automatic bedside defibrillator – it also has a medical equipment manufacturing legacy that dates back to the 1913 founding of the Burdick Cabinet Company in Milton, Wis. Today, Cardiac Science is a global leader in automated external defibrillators (AEDs) and diagnostic cardiac monitoring devices.
A global medical device company, Cardiac Science is known for industry-leading products, such as the Powerheart G3 AED. Originally released in 2003, this technologically advanced AED is designed for use by lay people and first responders for cardiac emergencies in public places such as schools, universities, small and large corporations, military, local and federal government, community centers and health clubs as well as first responders such as fire, police and EMS agencies. In 2012, the company released the Powerheart G5 to international markets and is currently expanding that product into its U.S. portfolio.
“We will roll out this industry changing AED to the U.S. and Canada by mid-next year,” General Manager and Senior Vice President of Global Sales and Marketing Al Ford says. “The G3 has been the best in market, and the G5 is the next generation. We will continue to enhance the product line, while also creating new, updated versions so we can provide more variety and options to reach more customers.”
In 2011, Opto Circuits (India) Ltd. acquired Cardiac Science and its Burdick, HeartCentrix, Powerheart and Quinton brands. Cardiac Science is now focused entirely on AED sales into its core marketplaces. Its capabilities include direct and indirect sales, distribution in more than 100 countries and an extensive worldwide service network. It is headquartered in Waukesha, Wis., and has a manufacturing facility in Deerfield, Wis., as well as operations in California, France, Italy and the U.K.
In the U.S. domestic market, the company sells to a diverse clientele that includes schools, universities, corporations, first responders and municipalities. Internationally, the company’s efforts are mainly geared toward first responders, but it has also found opportunities in markets such as train and bus depots in the U.K.
“About 50 percent of our business is in the U.S. and Canada, and the rest is overseas,” Ford says.
In addition to product superiority, Cardiac Science provides its customers with value-added services. For example, its customers need training on how to use the AED. Cardiac Science can ensure the customer gets the training and medical oversight they need, managing their complete program by tracking the expiration of supplies such as batteries and electrodes; tracking training certifications of employees; and servicing AEDs on a monthly or annual basis.
“We have a complete management program that tracks who is trained, when they are trained and when certifications are due to expire so they can be retrained,” Ford says. “Our program also tracks our products so we can inform customers when batteries and electrodes are due to expire.”
One of the major drivers in the AED marketplace is legislation. In some states, facilities such as schools and health clubs are mandated to have AEDs. International growth is also being driven by expanded legislation. An additional key factor in the industry is competition. There are five main companies competing in the U.S. market with around a dozen competing internationally.
“The company is successful because of three main attributes: the quality of the people that work for the organization; our partner relationships with suppliers and distributors; and the strong feature and benefit sets of our products, which are based on reliability, ease of use and our superior technology,” Ford says.
To make sure it is penetrating its target markets and getting its products to the right places at the right times, Cardiac Science has established relationships at the highest levels with its distribution partners. Globally, the company has around 150 distribution partners. Ford and his senior managers work directly with the senior executives.
“That helps us be sure that everything fits so their salespeople can represent our products and help us penetrate the customer base in a specific vertical market,” Ford says. “Our regional sales managers and sales reps then work with their middle managers and sales reps to get access to their customer base. The partner introduces us as the product expert to do demonstrations and talk about product differentiators. Each of our distributors has ties to different vertical markets, and each has a core business where they are strong.”
With more technological development coming down the pipeline, Cardiac Science is also looking at entering the home market. As pricing on AEDs changes, the company believes it can make consumer-friendly, economical products for use in the home.
Cardiac Science also believes its future success will depend on its ability to manage talent. Holding people accountable and putting together aggressive go-to-market plans have helped the company develop ties with its distribution partners, and its people have been able to turn those ties into strong, loyal relationships.
“Relationships will continue to be a major focus, as the competitive nature of the market requires strong relationships with partners,” Ford says. “We must be able to deliver quality products to end-users in aggressive, fair and reasonable timeframes.”
The realities of life and death are another driving factor for the future of the industry. Every time a life is saved by an AED – or lost because of the lack of an AED – it influences AED awareness. “The market is growing in the high single digits, and people are buying new products and replacing old products,” Ford says. “Decreasing prices are also making the products more accessible. Our strategy is to get AEDs in public places all over the world.”