This article originally appeared in the San Francisco Business Times
By Patrick Hoge, Reporter
Jim McGuire is an entrepreneur who finds business opportunities in wildly diverse places.
The companies McGuire has developed include ones that make polymers for hard disk drives, car paint protectants, a super-thin film that has replaced spray paint on racing cars, carbon fiber lacrosse sticks, and medical devices designed for use on the battlefield.
“Materials science is in everything. It’s everywhere,” said McGuire, a chemist by training who has 12 patents issued and 28 pending.
These days, McGuire is mostly in San Francisco running Entrotech Life Sciences, a startup in Mission Bay that has developed or helped a similarly broad array of products. There's a medical dressing McGuire says can reduce hospital-acquired infections, a bandage that compresses wounds, a chest dressing that prevents air from entering the thorax through injuries, a device that illuminates veins in the dark through night vision goggles and a clamp tourniquet for bleeding.
McGuire is president and CEO of EntroGroup, a holding company with more than $50 million a year in revenue that he founded in 1999 with $1.5 million in outside capital. The company has executive offices and labs in San Francisco, and manufacturing and development facilities in Columbus, Ohio, where it started.
Columbus is where one EntroGroup division, called AERO Advanced Paint Technology™, makes a paint-replacement film that is so thin and durable Boeing is testing it for airplanes. The film was also used to coat the U.S. bobsled team’s vehicles, which may have helped the men’s team win a bronze medal, beating Russia’s team by .03 seconds in the Sochi Olympics.
Michael Shank, owner of a Columbus-based car racing team, said AERO's films are 50 percent lighter than paint, which allows his racing vehicles to go faster. In addition, EntroGroup's material is more durable and versatile than competitors' films in its ability to accept many colors, which is important to sponsors, he said.
"It’s a rare instance that I have a product in my company that I can actually say makes my racing better, and it does," Shank said.
EntroGroup employs about 75 people, including 20 paid interns, at five separate companies, including Entrotech Life Sciences, a 20-person operation which launched three years ago.
In December, EntroGroup sold two divisions to TDK Corp., with about 40 people in China and Singapore combined, that made polymer-centric components used by hard disk drive manufacturers. As part of the deal, EntroGroup became an exclusive TDK supplier.
One Entrotech product of which McGuire is particularly proud, called BattleView, is a disposable infrared vascular imaging device used by the U.S. Air Force. McGuire’s father was a U.S. Army Ranger. Another, called BattleWrap, is a clear, adhesive material for binding wounds that got patented this year. Both products are sold through Combat Medical Systems in North Carolina.
Chris Murphy, vice president of research and development at Combat Medical Systems and a 30 year veteran of the U.S. Army, said the neck, pelvis and shoulder clamp, which his company co-developed with Entrotech, has been documented saving lives for both military personnel and civilians.
The device addresses types of wounds that don't lend themselves to regular tourniquet use, injuries that are responsible for about 25 to 30 percent of preventable battlefield deaths, he said. One highly publicized example was the 1993 death of a soldier from a gunshot wound to the groin that was documented in the bestselling book "Black Hawk Down."
McGuire said he personally moved to San Francisco from Columbus to run his newest company because the Bay Area is “unquestionably the center of biotech.”
Advising McGuire on possible sports medicine applications is Dr. Gary Fanton, a Stanford University orthopedic surgeon who is team physician for the San Francisco 49ers.
Principal Scientist George Holinga just submitted some 25,000 pages of documentation to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration seeking approval for Entrotech’s anti-microbial dressings and drapes, which hold Chlorhexidine, a notoriously volatile agent that can kill drug resistant microbes such as MRSA, a cause of widespread hospital-acquired infections.
“This product will kill everything that it comes in contact with that we tested for,” McGuire said.
According to the U.S Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, one in 25 patients get hospital-acquired infections, with 722,000 people infected in 2011 and 75,000 of them killed as a result.
“This is a platform that can be applied to any solid surface. Any dressing in a hospital environment becomes fair game,” McGuire said. “These are simple things. I can make the most impact redefining simple things.”
Patrick Hoge covers technology for the San Francisco Business Times.
© 2014 American City Business Journals. All rights reserved.