New leader sets goals to achieve growth

File/Staff
Osbon

One of Augusta's oldest bioscience companies pulled a medical device pioneer out of retirement to become its new chief executive. He plans to use his prior business model to propel Xytex to new heights of growth.

Julian Osbon, who took over as CEO on Friday, said he plans to add a sales staff to market services to doctors, and hinted the Augusta-based fertility company will try to acquire competitors.

"Most people look at this as just a sperm bank," Mr. Osbon said. "Xytex is more than a sperm bank. We prefer to look at it as being in the reproductive health industry and into tissue preservation."

Dr. Armand Karow, who started the company in 1975, died of cancer in February 2007. After his death, board member Charles Lanier stepped in as interim chief executive.

Mr. Osbon is a shareholder in the company and is a member of its board of directors. After saying no a few times, he accepted the board's request that he take over the company until a permanent successor can be found.

"I kind of owed it to him in many ways," Mr. Osbon said of Dr. Karow.

Among Mr. Osbon's goals is to start an educational foundation in Dr. Karow's name that would spearhead education about fertility.

The education and marketing components were part of Mr. Osbon's strategy in growing his former business, Osbon Medical Systems, which produced medical aids for erectile dysfunction. Mr. Obson said the greater the education and marketing to doctors, the greater the number of customers.

Mr. Osbon's company was bought by a medical device firm and he retired in 1997. The new post is his first steady job in 10 years.

Xytex has been growing without a structured sales force. Mr. Osbon feels Xytex is doing 10 percent of the business it could be doing. It already has an international presence and could be steered into a position to acquire rivals, he said.

"The industry is primarily mom and pop," Mr. Osbon said. "It is heavily regulated and is becoming more regulated. The more that happens, the better off Xytex is because all the things Armand did to ensure the quality of the company."

Xytex is headquartered on Emmett Street in Augusta and has about 25 employees.

In addition to storing sperm, Xytex also stores embryos and will soon venture into cord blood from newborns, which could be used instead of stem cells in medical treatments.

Reach Tim Rausch at (706) 823-3352 or timothy.rausch@augustachronicle.com.

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