Titan Spine raises ‘substantial’ investment

Private equity firm takes minority stake in medical device developer

The interior of Titan Spine's manufacturing plant in Brown Deer.

Mequon-based Titan Spine LLC has raised a “substantial” investment from private equity firm Southlake Equity Group, which founder and chief executive officer Dr. Peter Ullrich described as more than all the other funds the company has raised in its history, combined.

According to SEC filings, Titan has raised at least $2.6 million, which came in a debt only transaction that included 12 investors in 2011, and has also started the process to raise several other equity rounds as large as $1.6 million, though the conclusion of those rounds is unclear. Its revenue was listed on those documents as between $5 million and $25 million as of 2013.

Ullrich declined to disclose the amount of this new investment, but said Texas-based Southlake has taken a minority stake in the medical device development company in a round finalized June 30. Ullrich and a number of others make up the majority ownership group.

“We haven’t had to raise a lot of money in the past and have been able to do it with positive cash flow and some senior debt, mostly,” Ullrich said.

Titan, founded in 2006, makes a line of titanium interbody spinal implants equipped with a special grooved surface that encourages bone growth. The products are developed at its Mequon headquarters and manufactured in Brown Deer. The company will use the Southlake investment to commercialize its new nanoLOCK surface interbody device, Ullrich said.

“The reason (Southlake wants) to do this is they really believe in the technology,” Ullrich said. “I think this is a game-changer and technology that’s going to be good for medicine and good for patients.”

Titan Spine recently received a U.S. Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services code for its nanotextured surface on an interbody fusion device, which means the company will be able to more easily track research and outcomes on its nonLOCK-equipped products.

The company has 72 employees, and plans to double its sales force over the next nine months with the help of the capital investment, Ullrich said. When all is said and done, there will be at least 24 sales employees at the company. Titan will add direct sales force managers, but continue using an independent distribution network.

Titan is in the process of securing hospital contracts for its new nanoLOCK product and Ullrich hopes to begin ramping up use of the technology in the third and fourth quarters.

“The only thing we changed is the surface, so the product is otherwise the same,” Ullrich said. “The significant difference and why it’s a whole new product line is the surface at the micro and nano levels.”

The technology can also be applied to other titanium products, such as medical screws, so Titan Spine is researching other uses for nanoLOCK, he said.

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Molly Dill, former BizTimes Milwaukee managing editor.

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