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$3M to fuel Wright Therapy Products' growth

Friday, Dec. 7, 2012, 12:01 a.m.
 

Wright Therapy Products is “a startup with a history,” said CEO Michael Hinson.

The company was founded in the 1980s, but only in the last year have its sales exploded like a fast-growing startup.

“It's been in the last few years that the vision has changed to really grow the company and take it nationally,” said Hinson, who was hired in August 2011 to lead Wright's growth. He declined to give revenue figures.

To expand sales, the Oakdale-based medical device company has sought new capital from outside investors, including a recent $3 million infusion from Eagle Ventures Inc., a Shadyside venture capital firm that raises money for Western Pennsylvania companies from local “angel” investors.

“It's a great deal disguised as a good one,” Eagle Ventures' President Mel Pirchesky said of Wright. “They've been around for 20 years, but they've developed a real competitive advantage today.”

Pirchesky noted that with the investment in Wright, Eagle Ventures has invested more than $90 million in local companies.

The investment from Eagle Ventures brings Wright's total fundraising to about $5.5 million, Hinson said. The money is being used to expand the company's sales force across the country and to develop products.

Wright makes a pneumatic compression device that's used to treat people who have trouble draining fluid from their arms and legs or have poor circulation in their extremities. Sales are expected to be up 70 percent this year compared with 2011, Hinson said.

“The market is very large, and it's growing,” said Hinson, who came to Wright from Medrad, where he was a radiology executive. Marshall-based Medrad is a medical imaging company and subsidiary of Bayer Corp. in Robinson.

The compression device, which is similar to a large blood-pressure cuff, primarily is used to treat two conditions: lymphedema and venous insufficiency. Lymphedema, the collecting of fluid in the extremities, typically develops after people have received radiation treatment for cancer and is experienced by about 3 million to 5 million Americans, Hinson said.

Venous insufficiency, the inability of the body to circulate blood to the lower extremities, occurs primarily among the elderly, and there are an estimated 2 million Americans with the condition, Hinson said.

The company, which employs about 40 people, manufactures its devices in Oakdale and is developing products that may come to market in the next 18 months, Hinson said.

Hinson declined to discuss products under development but expects them to continue to drive growth. “They'll change the way we're able to treat patients.”

Alex Nixon is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-320-7928 or anixon@tribweb.com.

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