Jeffrey Rovell & Associates, Inc.
Microkeratome / Cataract Laser

Jeff says: Often a company needs someone who is on both the outside and the inside of the business to find new opportunities. At Becton Dickinson Ophthalmic Systems, putting me in that role resulted in an important new product.

How It Started

In 1998 I was working for Becton Dickinson Ophthalmic Systems as a consultant, charged with identifying and facilitating new opportunities for growth and profitability. Finding new products is surprisingly hard for big companies, because making business happen is all about personal relationships. Ultimately, whether a deal is signed depends on whether the right people are together in the same room, and larger companies, which are powerful but move slowly, often have trouble making that happen in a timely fashion. My role at BD was to make business happen.

That was exactly what occurred at a major ophthalmic convention in Boston when two engineers from BD Ophthalmic came up to me and said, "You know, we think we've found something interesting." They brought me down to see a microkeratome made by a company called Insight Technologies Instruments (ITI). The president, Gaston, or Gus, LeVesque, told me about the product himself.

Putting the Pieces Together

ITI's microkeratome was great — it was fast, accurate, and made a consistently placed cut, which put it a rung above its competitors. By 1998 Lasik surgeries had already taken off, and anything which could make them faster or better would be a significant product. ITI had already been in negotiations with a large device company, but the relationship had failed to develop. I knew that I could develop a relationship between ITI and BD which would be lasting and to everyone¥s benefit.

Gus LeVesque and I hit it off immediately and began to develop a relationship. I brought the general manager of BD together with LeVesque to talk about a possible business arrangement. ITI already had a customer in Japan, and LeVesque had another partner who would also need to be consulted; all of these people needed to be brought into the picture. Another factor to be taken into account was the synergy between BD's blade business and the microkeratome business. At that time, LeVesque was manufacturing his own blades; there would be a strategic advantage to buying the company for both parties. I acted as the facilitator, bringing all of these elements together to keep everybody talking and BD in the driver's seat so that we could close the deal.

Ultimately, closing the deal came down to bringing people together and simply making it happen. In the end, when momentum was waning, I phoned the general manager of BD and had him drive from New Jersey to Connecticut while I drove there from Waltham, Massachusettes to meet for dinner with the principals and solidify our position. We clinched the deal over dinner. Upon its release the microkeratome constituted a significant improvement in microkeratomes, raising the bar for all of our competitors.


Making business happen is a delicate and complex process: so many factors need to be balanced, so many people need to come together, that often deals fall apart because of a lack of persistent attention. That's where I come in as a business facilitator; I make the phone calls, keep the relationship building, and ultimately represent all sides in their search for the right deal and create win-win situations.

In this case, it was having the right relationships that was key. Because I knew the BD Ophthalmic engineers from a previous technology gathering trip, they trusted me enough to enthusiastically involve me in the product. Because building relationships is my job, I was able to work successfully with Gus LeVesque. Because I knew the management team at Becton Dickinson, I could speak candidly and directly with them about how to make the deal work. Above all, it is because I could be on both the outside and the inside of the deal that I could understand what each party needed to make this deal.