Techne Corp. names new CEO

  • Article by: STEVE ALEXANDER , Star Tribune
  • Updated: March 18, 2013 - 9:36 PM

Five-month drama over choosing a new CEO ends

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Tony Savage watched over the R&D Systems bottling line of wash buffer, part of the product line R&D Systems' parent company Techne hopes to expand into Asia with.

Photo: Glen Stubbe, Star Tribune

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Biomedical firm Techne Corp. has named Charles Kummeth its new CEO, ending a drama that began in November when the Minneapolis firm’s board declined to name the outgoing CEO’s choice of a successor.

Kummeth could not be reached to talk about his plans for Techne, which has 783 employees worldwide, including 646 in Minneapolis and others in Europe and China.

More than 90 percent of Techne’s revenue comes from biological products, such as specialized proteins and antibodies that are used in biotechnology research. Less than 10 percent of revenue comes from imitation blood samples that are used to calibrate instruments that count human blood cells.

Kummeth, who will begin work April 1, was president of the mass spectrometry and chromatography operations at Thermo Fisher Scientific in Coon Rapids. He replaces interim CEO Gregory Melsen, who will resume his job as chief financial officer.

Melsen, who has been interim CEO since the retirement of CEO Thomas Oland in November, was Oland’s choice for a successor. But Techne’s board of directors disagreed, and instead conducted the CEO search that resulted in Kummeth being hired. As a result, Oland declined to participate in the search for a successor outside of Techne or to support the board’s decision to do so with the company’s employees and shareholders.

Techne, which earned $112.3 million last year on revenue of $314.6 million, is the parent company of operating subsidiary R&D Systems (short for Research and Diagnostic Systems), and its products carry the R&D Systems brand name. R&D Systems was incorporated in 1976, and became part of Techne in 1981. Techne has been a public company since 1985.

Techne said Monday that Kummeth’s Thermo Fisher Scientific experience includes running operations that had thousands of employees and more than a billion dollars in sales. Before joining Thermo Fisher, he was a 3M divisional vice president. Techne said Kummeth also has experience in mergers and integrating acquisitions.

Steve Alexander • 612-673-4553

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