Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Working on the First Coast; Helping Doctors in Most Vital of Areas Sunoptic Technologies in Jacksonville Focuses Powerful Light for Surgeons' Use

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Working on the First Coast; Helping Doctors in Most Vital of Areas Sunoptic Technologies in Jacksonville Focuses Powerful Light for Surgeons' Use

Article excerpt

Byline: Drew Dixon

The demonstration of the high-intensity surgical light in the darkened conference room at Sunoptic Technologies in Jacksonville had a sci-fi feel to it.

David Mutch, Sunoptic's vice president of sales and marketing, had a pair of fiberoptic lines running to the lamp on his head. Those lines were lit up to virtually purple that met on a headset surrounding his forehead. In his hand, Mutch demonstrated how the handheld light helped physicians navigate some of the most challenging medical procedures.

Sunoptic has come to specialize in lights and cameras designed to aid surgeons. The company focuses on two markets with Sunoptics Surgical and Cuda Surgical, which is drawn from the original name of the company Cuda Fiberoptics, which changed names in 1999.

The lights worn by surgeons generate about 400 watts of power and focus on about a four-inch radius of lighted area.

While the company has about 65 employees at its 30,000-square-foot facility off Bowdendale Avenue, where it manufactures the high-end optical equipment, Sunoptic has taken on a global market and sold equipment in many countries.

The company generates about $15 million in annual revenue. The surgical fiberoptic lights sell for about $10,000 a unit for the head lamps and about $4,000 per unit for the handheld lights. The company sells about 1,000 units each year, Mutch said.

The company also offers customized equipment for private medical enterprises, Mutch said.

You're in a very unusual business and it's technologically driven. How much pressure is there to stay ahead of the curve, if you can stay ahead of the curve?

It is a high-technology business. If you aren't developing and moving the technology forward, you're falling behind. So, we have a team of engineers here in Jacksonville who are constantly developing products. This year, we'll introduce about six new products, probably half of them are enhancements to existing technology and about half are new applications, new products altogether; for example, a high-definition camera.

When you're in a business like this, it's highly specialized. But at the same time, you literally have a humming factory here. Where do you see your place in the Jacksonville business community? Is that kind of an odd niche?

Our position in the business community, we see ourselves as an employer, as a taxpayer, as a consumer of parts and products and components. In terms of our business, it's a worldwide business. We obviously have a business in Jacksonville and there are half a dozen to a dozen major hospitals here and we have our products in most if not all of them. But our business is worldwide, so our business focus tends to be elsewhere in terms of doing business and selling products.

In something like this that is so specialized, what is the marketing approach? …

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