In November 2004, Rod Young was named president and CEO of Angeion, a St. Paul–based manufacturer and marketer of cardiorespiratory diagnostic systems. In the next five years, the company increased its revenue from $19 million to $29 million, launching several new products along the way.
To be sure, Young brought executive experience to the Angeion job. His resumÃ© includes positions as vice president at Illinois-based health care company Baxter International and CEO of LecTec, then a Minnetonka-based medical device and pharmaceutical company. But he also credits his abilities to his extensive board service. And the boards he’s served on have in turn benefited from his executive background.
“As an active CEO himself, Rod is a very pro-management board member and an advocate for management strategies,” notes Greg Lehman, former CEO of Minneapolis-based Health Fitness Corporation, a provider of integrated health and fitness management services, whose board Young joined in 2001. “That said, Rod asked good questions, tough questions, which made me a better CEO.”
In 1999, Don Wegmiller, now chairman of Minneapolis-based C-Suite Resources and then a member of LecTec’s board, invited Young to join the board of Possis Medical, a Coon Rapids company providing mechanical devices used to treat narrowed or blocked arteries and veins. Wegmiller had been impressed with Young’s knowledge of corporate governance.
“Rod brought outstanding experience, particularly in sales and marketing programs, and demonstrated a great ability to work with other board members and management to bring Possis forward as a successful company,” Wegmiller says. Indeed, the Possis board recruited Young to succeed the company’s soon-to-be-retiring CEO. German health care giant Bayer’s purchase of Possis in February 2008 scuttled that plan.
Before being recruited by Possis, Young joined the board of Delta Dental of Minnesota in 1998. “The board had been predominantly dentists,” recalls Michael Walsh, Delta’s CEO at the time. “Rod and others brought a business bent to the board, which was very important. He lived through the whole entrepreneurial process with us of growing the company from $50 million to over $1 billion of dental business.”
Young also played a key role in shaping strategy for Health Fitness, which was acquired in February 2010. “As a member of our strategy committee, Rod’s insights on scaling the company to the next level were invaluable,” Lehman adds. “He was integral in helping us develop the strategy which led to the acquisition of the company.”
Young notes that his board service has made him a better CEO. For instance, by working through the Sarbanes-Oxley compliance process at Possis Medical, he was able to streamline Angeion’s moves when it developed its own Sarbanes-Oxley compliance process.
But just as important to Young are the interactions he’s experienced with his fellow directors.
“You can’t serve on a board for multiple years without developing personal relationships,” Young notes. “There’s an upside not only for the growth and learning process, but in getting to know other individuals from a professional as well as from a personal perspective.”
Among the other health care company boards Young has served on: Minneapolis-based hospital and clinic operator Allina Health System, which he joined in 2007.