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Saturday, Dec 2, 2023

Local Medical Device Makers Showing Green Shoots

While Orange County’s largest medical device makers on the surface may appear to be slowing their employee growth, there are some green shoots appearing among upstarts with hot products.

The Business Journal’s annual list of the 25 largest medical device makers reported 14,404 employees, a 2.4% increase from a year ago and similar to last year’s growth.

The biggest increase on this year’s list was No. 19 Aliso Viejo-based RxSight Inc. (Nasdaq: RXST), whose employee count jumped 47% to 182. The company, which touts the world’s first adjustable eye lens after implantation, reported revenue more than doubled to $49 million in 2022.

“As more people learn and see the result, that leads to growth and interest in the technology,” Chief Executive Ron Kurtz told the Business Journal (see story, page 1). Companywide, the 25 firms on the list grew 3.5% to 648,796.

Biggest Movers

Another big local employee growth spurt was No. 23 Staar Surgical Co. (Nasdaq: STAA), which climbed 28% to 102 local employees. Its companywide employee count also jumped 20% to 964.

The Lake Forest-based maker of implantable lenses for eyes has been expanding its operations, including opening a new 1,500-square-foot EVO ICL Experience Center that is equipped with a surgical simulation room and features a 120-inch 4K video array that will allow video conferencing and surgical simulation, with the potential to stream live surgeries performed at other locations to the surgical simulation room.

“We expect this center will elevate the training globally,” James Francese, Staar’s senior VP of Commercial Operations North America and APAC, told the Business Journal last year.

The next biggest local jump was 23% to 628 employees at Inari Medical Inc. (Nasdaq: NARI), an Irvine-based maker of systems to remove large clots in the veins. Companywide, its headcount rose 34% to 1,147.

Inari, which has a new local headquarters based in the Irvine Spectrum, reported sales jumped 38% to $383.5 million in 2022. It forecast sales this year will climb another 23% to 25%, a range around $470 million to $480 million.

“Our efforts continue to drive market expansion and uptake of our devices while further distancing Inari from both existing and future competition,” Inari CEO Drew Hykes said in a statement.

Hykes became CEO on Jan. 1, replacing Bill Hoffman, who took over in 2015 when the company had 10 employees and no approved products.

Aspen Medical Products of Irvine, which makes spine braces, grew its companywide employee count 45% to 465 while its local count climbed 9.1% to 120.

“We’ve got so much coming out in the next three years,” Aspen Medical CEO Jim Cloar said (see story, page 18).


A notable increase on the list was Irvine-based Masimo Corp. (Nasdaq: MASI), which grew its companywide employee count 23% to 9,813, mostly because of its acquisition a year ago of Sound United, a maker of audio products. Masimo, which makes oxygen monitoring devices, reported its OC headcount climbed 6.9% to 946.

Edwards Lifesciences Corp. (NYSE: EW), Orange County’s most valuable publicly traded company, isn’t growing as fast as recent years, reporting 1% growth to 4,858.

Last year, the company saw growth slowing as fewer surgeries were done due to COVID-19 shutting down medical facilities.

Edwards has grown significantly from a decade ago when its local base was under 2,500 employees. In 2020, the company completed a 315,000-square-foot expansion, including new laboratories, outdoor conference center and office space.

Last year, two new buildings on the campus along Red Hill Avenue added another 150,000 square feet of space.

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