Barry de Reuver traded London for Leek. He became a shareholder and COO of Wellinq, becoming its CEO three years later. Under his leadership, the medical-technology company has recently undergone a transformation and grown its sales substantially. "I have been lucky to have met the right people.
For nearly 18 years, Barry de Reuver worked as an investment banker. First in Amsterdam, but soon after in the City of London. There, in the financial heart of Europe, he supervised mergers and acquisitions of chemical, pharmaceutical and medical technology companies, among others. He was 40 when he deliberately left the banking world and London in 2011. 'When you've brought five daughters into the world, at some point you start thinking about how you want to structure the next few years,' says Barry. 'I then made a conscious decision to return to the Netherlands with my family and orient myself to a new adventure.'
Once settled back in his native country, Barry began his search for a possible next step in his career. 'I'm not a man of the first moment,' he says. 'Don't expect a brilliant idea from me that I can then build on. I prefer to help build and grow something. And preferably something you can make an impact on and be proud of. I eventually found such a company. I was lucky that I met the right people. Barry is referring to meeting Floris Alkemade and Bas Ludolph, who had founded Wellinq in 2011. Wellinq is an innovative medical technology company, with offices in Leek and Helmond, that focuses on the development and production of medical devices in the field of cardiovascular diseases and sensors. Barry's interest was quickly piqued. Especially also because the company had just won major commercial contracts, requiring production, product development and organization to be scaled up at high speed. And yes, to the growth of Wellinq he was only too happy to participate.
The interest turned out to be mutual. And so Barry was appointed COO of Wellinq in 2013. At the same time, he was appointed general manager of PendraCare, a successful subsidiary of the company, which develops and produces (smart) catheters for cardiology, radiology and urology applications, among others. The first weeks in Leek are still clear in his mind, he says. 'From day one I discovered that everything revolves around the decisions I dare to make one day. Decisions with sometimes small, but often large consequences for the company. Whereas the years before I had prepared numerous decisions, but never had to make the actual decisions myself. Although that took some getting used to, I mainly saw it as a great challenge.
High quality complement
In addition to PendraCare, which received growth funding from the NOM in 2015, Sentron was also a Wellinq subsidiary. The company, based in Roden at the time, develops, manufactures and sells sensors and measurement equipment. 'The activities of PendraCare and Sentron complemented each other perfectly at the time,' Barry underlines. 'Combining catheters with sensors enabled us to make smart devices. By fitting a catheter with a sensor, you can not only get to a place where the heart or vessels are diseased in a non-invasive way, i.e. without it being burdensome for the patient, but also take relevant measurements.' In 2013, Wellinq made another acquisition with Blue Medical Devices. Operating in the global interventional cardiology market, Blue Medical Devices, like PendraCare, has its own development and manufacturing environment, but in the field of balloons. Balloons that can be used to treat blood vessels, to be precise. Once again, a high-quality reinforcement for Wellinq's activities. Because with this balloon knowledge, the company was able to develop new applications even better.
Supported by a minority shareholder, substantial investments were made in people, machinery, quality systems, production technology and product development. This went so well that in 2015 it led to the exit of the minority shareholder and the entry of a majority shareholder, in the name of Bencis Capital Partners. 'This was done with a clear purpose,' Barry explains. 'Attracting a new shareholder allowed us to integrate PendraCare, Sentron, which is now called Sensor Solutions, and Blue Medical Devices into one company, into one Wellinq. That way we can work together even more efficiently, decisions can be made even faster and, as one company, we can therefore anticipate market demands even more adequately.'
Barry grew up in Zutphen. His youth in the Hanseatic city of Gelderland consisted largely of tennis. He was talented and for a long time even aspired to become a professional. When he realized that this might be a bit too ambitious, he decided to study after finishing high school. Inspired by his love of technology, it became Technical Business Administration at the University of Twente. 'Very practically, I chose Enschede because I could then easily travel back and forth to Arnhem for training,' Barry clarified. 'After graduating, I was about to join GE Medical Systems in Paris. Until ABN AMRO put a stop to that and enticed me to work for the bank in the new mergers and acquisitions department. They were particularly looking for students with a technical background and a healthy ambition. Why did I do it? Because it seemed exciting to me to do projects in a new environment with smart colleagues. Eventually I wanted to go abroad, to New York or London, so I could play in the Champions League. That has everything to do with my sports mentality. I always feel in myself the urgency to keep raising the bar a little higher. In London, I was given every opportunity to do that.'
So after his time in London, where Barry worked as Managing Director Mergers & Acquisitions at merchant bank Merrill Lynch after ABN AMRO, he joined Wellinq in Leek in 2013. When both founders stepped out of the operation following the acquisition by Bencis Capital Partners, he was promoted to CEO soon after. With the task of creating one strong medical company while thinking out and executing the company's next growth phase. And so far, he has succeeded admirably. The new mission "Helping doctors to improve patients' lives" was central to this. So Wellinq came up with numerous new innovations in recent years. From a smart urology catheter and a new diagnostic catheter for peripheral applications to several new generations of balloons and guided catheters and new sensor technology. 'Our products are used by physicians in hundreds of hospitals worldwide,' Barry says. 'But increasingly we have begun to target large medical companies who buy our products and then sell them under their own label to hospitals around the world. Think of parties like B.Braun, Terumo and Boston Scientific.'
Since 2015, Wellinq has grown tremendously in both size and revenue. How does Barry explain the company's success? For example, what typifies his approach as CEO? 'Virtually my entire working life I have worked with teams and people,' he says. 'I learned that at the end of the day, you have to do it together. That everything is about teamwork and the way you motivate people to achieve the desired results. Not only the result, but also how it is achieved is important. At Wellinq we have proven that more than once.'
In this white paper you will learn:
- What you have to deal with when you start working with investors
- Differences and similarities between bank funding, subordinated loan and equity capital
- In what ways NOM as an investor can help you
Please note that this whitepaper is only available in Dutch at the moment. We are in the process of translating this whitepaper.