Patrick Balthrop hadn’t been CEO of Luminex for very long when interviewed for this article — in fact it was only his fourth day on the job since starting in mid-May — but he did have this much to say about his new position: “I’m the sales and marketing guy, effectively.” For a company valiantly attempting to transform itself from a purely technology-focused business into a market-based operation backed by science, this was a telling statement.
Over the past year, Austin-based Luminex has made a series of changes to its business, including removing itself from direct sales and striving to change a culture based on a “build it and they will come” mentality into an operation based on supporting their commercial partners and understanding their market needs. Hiring Balthrop, a manager with experience running Fisher HealthCare and Abbott’s diagnostics operations, is another move to strengthen Luminex’s position as a developer of bead-based technology for multiplexed assays for applications in drug development, clinical diagnostics, and genomics and proteomics research, according to Balthrop and Harriss Currie, Luminex’s CFO and vice president for finance.
As for why he jumped at the chance to lead Luminex after spending less than two years as president of Fisher Healthcare, Balthrop more than anything cites the growth potential for Luminex’s technology. “We are in a fast-growing market,” he says. “There’s a fair amount of upside growth, as well as unmet customer needs.” Balthrop’s plan is to work closely with Luminex’s established collaborators, such as Bio-Rad, Tm Bioscience, and Inova Diagnostics, who develop the assays based on Luminex’s bead technology, and seek out additional partners who can develop more uses for the company’s xMAP assay platform.
Balthrop says his experience most relevant to the job at hand comes from his time at Abbott, where besides running the commercial diagnostics arm of the company, he managed the drug and diagnostics giant’s global R&D operations, among other management positions. He doesn’t consider himself much of a scientist, despite his undergraduate degree in biology, but his business skills, augmented with an MBA from the Kellogg School at Northwestern, were what Luminex was looking for, he says. In fact, he adds, his biology degree didn’t even contribute to his taking a sales position with Abbott when he began his career with the company 20 years ago. “Can I be blunt?” he asks. “I needed to pay the rent, and there wasn’t much of a strategy initially beyond that.” Perhaps an attitude focused on the bottom line will also serve him well at Luminex.
— John S. MacNeil