Integra LifeSciences Holdings Corporation has appointed Christopher Thatcher as president of the newly created Integra NeuroSciences division.

Plainsboro-based Integra, developer of a broad array of medical devices, has been growing recently, having added surgical retraction developer Minnesota Scientific in January and increasing its staff to 492 from 360 just two years ago. This growth, says Thatcher, essentially has mandated that the company recast its focus, to base it on subject areas rather than regions.

Typically, says Thatcher, a company gets to a certain size and it develops sales forces in regions. This works well until the company grows bigger still, when teams expert in one area of the business need to be set up in order to keep the company relevant and aware of how its sales are going. Thatcher admits this is a luxury only certain companies can afford, but says it is a vital step for a company seeking growth.

It also is a familiar step for Thatcher. At Bausch & Lomb, where Thatcher ran five businesses in the Canadian subsidiary in Toronto after several years in sales and executive positions, Thatcher saw the optics giant take the same steps to diversify by category rather than geography. Thatcher assumes the lead of Integra’s neurosciences division just as the company is shifting its focus. The firm also has crafted a medical instruments division and orthopedic and spinal products division.

Thatcher comes to Integra with 14 years’ experience in optics, having worked for Allergan before going to Bausch & Lomb. Prior to that the 1986 geology graduate from Lafayette was drafted as a guard by the Cincinnati Bengals in the seventh round in 1987 (five places behind Bo Jackson). Thatcher says he spent almost his entire pro career hurt, but he parlayed his football prowess into coaching positions at William and Mary College and Columbia.

What came from coaching football, he says, is an easily transferable business skill. Having spent seven years analyzing competition and drawing up appropriate responses, Thatcher says he is able to turn business information into strategies, build good teams, and recognize good talent. He also keeps in mind something the legendary Vince Lombardi once said: “The pressure of winning is what will kill you.”

Though he studied geology in college, Thatcher says that too has given him much insight into his chosen field. Geology, after all, is science, and it requires scientific rigor — attention to outline, purpose, and procedure. You take the information into account and measure the effects. In business, he says, you do the same thing, only the effect is the bottom line. And unlike football, where your strategies and plans recycle every seven days, business is continuous.

According to an Integra statement, Thatcher significantly improved the performance of the Canadian business, while building a highly successful executive and management team. He established winning commercial strategies for five business units and restructured the various functional departments.

Integra LifeSciences Holdings Corporation (IART), 313 Enterprise Drive, Plainsboro 08536; 609-936-3600; fax, 609-275-5363. Stuart M. Essig, CEO. Home page: www.integra-ls.com.

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