Medical firm Angeion Corp. paid $1.35 million to three CEOs last year, when there was a revolving door at the firm's executive suite.

The compensation and severance were paid to former CEO Rodney Young ($624,000), who left Dec. 31, 2010; Philip Smith ($451,000), who left in late May 2011; and Gregg Lehman ($279,000), the current CEO, according to documents filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

The Vadnais Heights-based Angeion sells cardio-respiratory diagnostic systems under its MedGraphics and New Leaf brands. Besides a troubled financial history -- it has lost money for the last four years -- Angeion was threatened with a proxy fight in 2010 by a dissident shareholder, who won changes to the company's board of directors.

Board Chairman Mark Sheffert acknowledged that the $1.35 million for CEOs last year was a lot of money for a company that lost $200,000 on revenue of $29.1 million. But he says the expense will be worth it in the long run because the company's leadership is now stable.

"I'm optimistic about how things are going now, and the direction we're taking," said Sheffert, who agreed to speak to the Star Tribune because CEO Lehman was traveling and couldn't be reached for comment. "There's no question that, over time, people will see these were good moves."

One of Angeion's strengths is that it has between $9 million and $10 million in cash and no long-term debt, Sheffert noted. "Even as we've gone through three CEOs, the cash and the lack of debt have continued to be steadfast metrics," he said.

But the firm continues to lose money and has not publicly stated when it expects to return to profitability. Lehman is addressing those issues, Sheffert said.

"Our operating expenses are still high in relation to our revenues, but Lehman has begun processes to bring those down," Sheffert said. "Our major focus is on continuing to grow our profit margins and to grow our revenues, both organically and through opportunities for alliances, partnerships and acquisitions."

Angeion stock closed at $5.17 a share Friday, down 18 cents, or more than 3 percent.

Steve Alexander • 612-673-4553