Tornier CEO Kohrs Steps Down, COO Takes Over

Tornier Chief Operating Officer David Mowry has been named interim CEO, replacing Douglas Kohrs, who has led the company since 2006.

Douglas Kohrs has retired from his roles as president, CEO, and executive director of Tornier, Inc., an Amsterdam-based medical device company that has its U.S. headquarters in Edina.

Tornier announced that David Mowry, who joined the company in July 2011 as chief operating officer, took over as interim president and CEO on Monday.

Tornier did not elaborate on the reason for Kohrs’ departure, and a Wednesday call to the company was not immediately returned. But according to a filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, Kohrs will serve as a consultant to Tornier through May 12, and his departure “is not the result of any disagreement or other dispute with Tornier on any matter relating to Tornier’s operations, policies, or practices.”

News of Kohrs’ sudden departure, however, was met with a negative response on Wall Street. The company’s stock price closed down about 7 percent at $15.92 on Tuesday; it rebounded Wednesday when it increased about 3 percent to close at $16.45.

“I have greatly enjoyed my tenure with Tornier and am proud to have had the opportunity to work with a fantastic team in growing the company to be one of the most prominent providers of orthopaedic solutions,” Kohrs said in a statement. “I have great confidence in the skills and talent of Dave and rest of the management team and their ability to continue to execute on the strategy we have laid out together.”

Meanwhile, the company’s non-executive director, Kevin O’Boyle, has been named interim vice chairman, a role in which he will serve as a liaison between Mowry and the company’s board.

Mowry will work with Kohrs and O’Boyle “to ensure a smooth and orderly transition” as the board begins its search for a permanent chief executive, the company said.

Tornier, which makes joint-replacement and other orthopedic devices, was one of only two Minnesota companies to go public last year; it raised $166 million in an initial public offering in February 2011.

The company isn’t profitable: In 2011, it reported sales of $261.2 million and a net loss of $30.5 million. For the quarter that ended September 30, revenue grew 0.8 percent to $58 million, and the company reported a net loss of $11.7 million, or 29 cents per share.

In April, Tornier announced plans to relocate its distribution operations from Texas to Minnesota—a move that the company said involved adding 50 to 60 jobs in the Twin Cities. It also said at that time that it would consolidate some of its offices in St. Ismier, France and Dunmanway, Ireland with other nearby Tornier facilities.

Tornier Chairman Sean Carney said in a statement that Kohrs was “instrumental in bringing Tornier public, leading the recent acquisition of the OrthoHelix business, and expanding our international footprint, core capabilities, and the innovation pipeline.”

Kohrs led other medical companies before taking the helm at Tornier. As CEO of Minnetonka-based American Medical Systems from 1995 to 2005, he turned a small urological-products firm into a successful public company. Before that, he co-founded Spine-Tech, an orthopedic manufacturer later acquired by global medical technology giant Sulzer.

He left American Medical in 2006 and became entrepreneur-in-residence at Eden Prairie venture capital firm Split Rock Partners, where he persuaded a team of investors to buy Tornier. After the purchase, he became CEO and president and moved the company’s U.S. headquarters to Edina. (To learn more about Kohrs, who was named a winner in this year’s regional Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year competition, click here.)