I was recently made aware of an “interest group” on Facebook called “I grew up in Warsaw, Indiana.”
Now, I am not a regular on Facebook and it took me awhile to find this group, but what I discovered was a mixture of postings that relive days gone by in our community. Topics include the old Lake Theater, stock car racing at the fairgrounds, the Jet White grocery store and a lot more good old stuff.
Moving to Warsaw in 1972, I remember retail and restaurants like Kline’s Department Store, Harvey’s, W.R. Thomas, Breading’s Cigar Store (was that a restaurant?) and Azar’s Big Boy (my first job in Warsaw). Clausing Manufacturing, Gatke Corp., Litchfield Creamery, Jomac and Arnolt Corporation were all established Warsaw industrial sites at that same time.
“A History of the City of Warsaw, Indiana” by Michelle Bormet documents the history of many of our businesses and industries in a very concise manner.  Specifically, I referenced several sections as they relate to our orthopedic industry.   Since Revra DePuy founded DePuy in 1895, its growth has evolved amongst private investors and several corporate owners, notably Boehringer Mannheim, Johnson and Johnson in 1998, and in 2012, an acquisition that created the current DePuy-Synthes.
Zimmer, founded in 1927, has grown in a similar manner with acquisition by Bristol-Myers Squibb in 1972 and as Zimmer Holdings Inc. in 2001. Carlin Manufacturing started in the late 1950s, evolved into Warsaw Orthopedic in 1982 and eventually to Danek, Sofamor Danek, and now Medtronic Sofamor Danek. Othy began in 1976, combined with Poly-Vac in 1996, and soon after became Symmetry Medical. Biomet was founded in 1977, purchased OEC in 1984, and was purchased by a private equity group in 2007.
Many other orthopedic and non-orthopedic companies in our community have grown via mergers and acquisitions: RR Donnelly, Da-Lite Screen and Paragon Medical, to name a few. While there are many other examples too numerous to mention, acquisitions and mergers are the corporate rule rather than the exception.
I assume by now you know where I am going with this.
The acquisition of Biomet by Zimmer last week, two locally based, global leaders in the orthopedic industry, created a seismic shift in the orthopedic industry.  Media business analysts have dissected the deal down to the “bones.”
I cannot answer how or why this happened. We all are aware of the dramatic changes that have and will continue to impact our health care industry.  Domestically, these changes have created a demand for innovative, value-driven products. In addition, there is keen competition for growth in an expanding global market place. Financial analysts and industry insiders list those as the primary reasons given for the acquisition. In fact, last Friday as I read coverage of the local news in the print version of the Wall Street Journal, I couldn’t help but notice multiple reports of similar corporate mergers mentioned throughout that same April 25 edition. These deals happen all the time, but never with the local impact it produced right here in our hometown.
Local reaction was immediate and very mixed. I understand why. There will be changes. History also tells us that. As those decisions are made, it will be very difficult for those affected. As a community, we will all feel the pain. I hope for a smooth transition.
Many of you who have grown up in Warsaw have seen “humbling prosperity” firsthand over the years. It sure doesn’t look the same as it did in 1972 when I first moved here. I hope Michelle is around in another 25 years to add some new chapters to her book. There will be much to write about and it will be a great story.