Originally Published MDDI August 2004
Bill Cook: billionaire, inventor, tour bus driver. It's hard to pin a label on Cook, the founder of Cook Group Inc., the first company to market stents in 1993. His interests run the gamut, including producing a Broadway musical, owning a British professional basketball team, and driving John Cougar Mellencamp's tour bus. But one thing is for certain: the medical device industry would not be the same today without him.
Shortly after quitting MPL Inc. in 1962, a company he cofounded with Brian Baldwin, the owner of Baxa Corp., Cook formed the Cook Group Inc. The principal factory of this new enterprise was originally located in the spare bedroom of his apartment. His first products were wire guides, needles, and catheters. Today, those products are just a few of the more than 50,000 that Cook's companies manufacture worldwide.
It didn't take long for Cook to spread the business out to medicine, overseas medical product manufacturing and distribution, real estate, retail management, and other industries. Cook focused on making the company a leader in the production of catheters, wire guides, introducer needles and sheaths, stents and stent grafts, embolization coils, intraluminal filters, and other minimally invasive devices. In addition to these products, Cook Group also makes devices designed for the unique needs of medical personnel in Europe, Japan, Canada, Australia, Africa, and the Middle East. Each Cook affiliate in these far-off locales is accountable for its own personnel, physical resources, and economic solvency, but all Cook companies share technology and mutual product distribution channels.
Although Cook Group has offices all over the world, its headquarters remain in Bloomington, IN, where 60 percent of the company's total workforce is located. Cook sought out the southern Indiana town, population 69,291, for its quality of life, strong schools, and skilled labor pool. His ties to the small, midwestern town run deep. Despite having a net worth of more than $3 billion, Cook and his wife, Gayle, still live in the three-bedroom house they purchased in 1967.
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