When Clinton Severson arrived as CEO of Abaxis Inc. in 1996, the company’s future looked bleak.
The company makes small, portable blood analyzers for physicians and veterinarians that require minimal training and yield results in less than 12 minutes. Despite this remarkable product, it was trying to do something that hadn’t been done yet in marketing these devices for use in physicians’ offices. In the veterinary realm, it was also up against a much larger company that controlled 90 percent of the market. If those weren’t big enough hurdles to jump, Abaxis was also losing money and barely had enough cash to stay afloat.
Despite all of this, Severson had confidence in the product. He found more investors in less traditional investment firms and raised capital from 1996 to 2002. With the cash he needed, he transformed Abaxis from a losing company to a force in health care. He asked his manufacturing director to reduce the cost of making one component of the product from $22 to $4, and he was told this was impossible. He disagreed and found a new director and management team to make this and other improvements. Today, that part costs $4.13 to make.
Under Severson’s leadership, Abaxis has grown from margins of negative 50 percent to positive 65 percent and now has 20 percent of the veterinary market, proving that sometimes you just can’t take no for an answer.
HOW TO REACH: Abaxis Inc., (510) 675-6500 or www.abaxis.com