Integration is new heart of company

  • KATHY DAY / Herald Writer
  • Wednesday, September 27, 2000 9:00pm
  • Local News

Bothell firm makes cardiac-care products


Herald Writer

BOTHELL — If you’ve ever had a stress test to check your heart, there’s a good chance Quinton Instrument Co. was involved.

Tucked into a business park on land adjacent to I-405 that once was a dairy farm, Quinton focuses on diagnostic, monitoring and rehabilitation products used by cardiologists and cardiology technicians.

When the American Heart Association meetings are held in New Orleans in November, the company will officially launch its latest product, the Q-Stress System. It links a personal computer with a treadmill or exercise bike and includes various preprogrammed protocols that help the physician get the data needed for a diagnosis, explained David Ormerod, Quinton’s marketing director.

"This represents the direction the company is going: into integrated systems," he said.

It’s taken about a year since the idea was conceived to get it to the final stages of Food and Drug Administration approval.

Drew Currie, senior project manager who heads the Q-Stress team, said the development process involved a core group of about 12 people. But at a recent meeting, he asked everyone in the room who had worked on it to raise their hands.

"About 100 hands went up," he said.

The company, founded in 1953 by Wayne Quinton with the mission of building the first treadmill for cardiac testing, has gone through several corporate lives, including a period as a wholly owned division of American Home Products. In 1998, an investment group consisting of W.R. Hambrecht &amp Co., Hewlett-Packard Co. (and now its Agilent spinoff) and Zymed Corp. purchased the company and made it private again. Today it employs about 250, mostly in Bothell.

With the ownership change, the focus returned to Quinton’s original mission of developing and manufacturing products that are used by cardiologists. Its fitness business, which in 1989 took on its own life as a division producing treadmills, exercise bikes and ergometers and other equipment for sports training and rehabilitation, was sold to Stairmaster, which is located next door.

But the relationship continues, with Stairmaster producing the treadmills and exercise bikes used with Quinton products, Ormerod said.

Quinton’s product line includes recorders that can be worn by patients away from the doctor’s office to track their heart’s function, radio transmitters linked to electrocardiogram equipment that tracks exercise tolerance, and software systems to record and track changes during treatment.

It also produces tools and software used in heart catheterization labs to monitor blood pressure and measure the size of arteries in preparation for insertion of stents or angioplasty.

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