August 23, 2012 By John Hargaden
Boston Scientific has over 4,500 employees in Ireland but fears that the company may be planning to reduce its footprint here are misplaced, according to its CEO who trumpets the ‘stellar’ performance of its Irish operations.
A suave, tanned character, whose career began in the US air force, Kucheman has been with Boston Scientific since 1995. Before taking over as chief executive officer late last year, he was head of the cardiology, rhythm and vascular group, which makes him intimately familiar with the work happening at the company’s three Irish locations in Galway, Cork and Clonmel.
And he is, undoubtedly, a fan.
“What I have always been impressed by through the years is the attitude of the Irish people – their dedication, their passion, their attention to detail and their desire to ‘get-it- right-first-time’ type of mentality,” he says in the Natick board room, on a recent Thursday afternoon.
“Over the years, we’ve brought some of our toughest challenges to Ireland in terms of product initiatives or product introductions, and the people there have been just absolutely stellar. They have knocked it out of the park almost every time,” he adds.
Boston Scientific is one of Ireland’s most significant employers, with more than 4,500 employees. Roughly 2,650 are based in Ballybrit in Galway, where the company has both a manufacturing operation and a high- tech RD centre. It is the company’s biggest manufacturing site globally.
The company employs another 20,000 people in locations across the Americas, Europe, Asia, the Middle East and Africa. It generated $7.6 billion in net sales last year from a product line of medical devices that includes pacemakers, stents, pain management systems and other technologies used in cardiology, urology, gastroenterology and various other medical disciplines.
Boston is truly a world player with leading market positions in many of the products it makes. But, like others, the company has suffered a decline in revenue in recent years. Last year’s net sales were down from $7.8 billion in 2010.
A recent Wall Street Journal analysis found that Boston Scientific has shed a total of 3,000 jobs since 2007 but, for the most part, the company’s Irish operations have been spared the worst of the layoffs.
Two plants in Donegal were closed in 2009 with the loss of 120 jobs while, in 2010, 175 workers lost their jobs in Galway – a devastating blow for those affected.
However, Kucheman has high praise for Ireland’s RD tax credits, which he says are part of a “smart” government strategy to bring innovation into the State.
“Ireland has one of the lowest tax rates in the world today . . . and this is one of the things I admire about your country’s strategy. But when medical device companies or pharma companies or telecommunication companies look to the Ireland opportunity, one of the things that I find very attractive is how your Government thinks about developing the skill sets within your country.”
Ref: IDA Ireland
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