Brian Sullivan
Brian Sullivan
Co-Founder, Recovery Engineering, Inc.

Brian Sullivan is currently the President and CEO of SterilMed, Inc., a health care services company that reprocesses medical devices and repairs medical equipment for nearly 1,700 hospitals and surgery centers across the country.  He has grown SterilMed’s revenues 35 percent annually since taking over the company while establishing a leadership position in both its primary markets.

Previously, Mr. Sullivan was co-founder, chairman and chief executive officer of Recovery Engineering, Inc., an industry leader in the design, manufacture, and marketing of consumer water filter systems sold under the PUR brand name. Under Sullivan’s leadership, Recovery Engineering recorded compound annual growth of 51 percent, achieved over 50 percent market share in all of its product categories and grew annual revenue to nearly $200 million.

Mr. Sullivan took Recovery Engineering public in 1993 and sold the company to Proctor and Gamble in 1999 for $265 million.  Mr. Sullivan graduated magna cum laude from Harvard University and currently serves on the Board of Directors for Entegris, Inc., the Virtual Radiologic Corporation, and Hope Academy, an inner city school for underprivileged children.

 

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QYou invented PUR water filters, took your company public, and then eventually sold to P&G for $270 million. It's interesting that one of your professors at Harvard helped you get into business as a relatively fresh college grad.

AAbout a year after I graduated, my thesis advisor told me about a friend whose dad had a patent for a device that could desalinate seawater. My professor's friend didn't really know what to do with it, and my professor knew that I was looking at various business ideas and wanted to start a business. He set up an introduction and the end result was that I bought that patent, which ultimately became worth about five percent of our revenue as we grew. It allowed me, as a 24-year-old, to start a business, develop an engineering team, get the initial distribution for a niche product, then use that as a foundation to develop our next and subsequently largest product line.

QHow did you know you wanted to start your own company?

AMy father was a businessman, so I was exposed to business leaders and I had a sense that I didn't want to work for somebody. I felt I had the ability to be successful on my own. I wasn't interested in doing my time, so to speak, and waiting 10 years

QYou also prepared by taking your first job out of college with a company that owned a number of businesses.

A I worked for a holding company that parachuted me in to look at their businesses and make recommendations. I thought I'd find one of the companies within this holding company that they'd be willing to sell to me. It was unrealistic, but it gave me exposure to a variety of different businesses.

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