“In the late 1960s, our first catheter-tip transducer was designed by Huntly Millar, with the help of Dr. Bill Hall, as they flew a small plane through the nighttime skies of Arizona.”
So states an exhibit in a cabinet full of memorabilia celebrating the 20th anniversary of Millar Instruments, Inc. (Now Millar, Inc.).
It would be easy to say something like “from such humble beginnings, a company was formed.” That would be right and wrong. It was a new venture that took intelligence, ingenuity, dogged determination, an entrepreneurial spirit and a drive to succeed. It was also, however not the first time Huntly Millar had stepped out on his own.
This was technically his third medical device company. The first, E&M instruments, was a product of his time at the Baylor College of Medicine biomedical engineering department. Working with Dr. Les Geddes, the biomedical engineering group had developed a number of innovative devices, and Dr. Geddes suggested that a private company might do well bringing those products to market. Huntly did just that. The most well-known of the products was the Physiograph, one of the first multi-channel chart recorders with multiple plug-ins for easily changing the function of the channels. After a successful few years, they attracted the attention of the Narco Corporation, which was interested in entering the medical business. A deal was struck and E&M instruments became Narco Biosystems.
After a successful few years, Huntly got restless and decided it was time for something new again. He left Narco and started Millar Instruments, Inc. in his garage in 1969. He rented the first office space in one of the Houston Office Center buildings in 1971. By 1987, the company had expanded to where it took up all three buildings, which were then purchased.
Over the years, the following milestones were reached:
In 2001, Huntly was awarded the Laufman-Greatbach Prize by the Association for the Advancement of Medical Instrumentation (AAMI), for outstanding accomplishment with a significant impact on a specific medical device. Included in the presentation was the statement, “Millar catheters have come to represent the ‘gold standard’ for accurate measurement of pressure, flow, and volume in humans, and have become essential for acquisition of accurate hemodynamic data in assessment of pediatric and adult cardiovascular function.”
In 2004, Millar Instruments, Inc., was presented with the Excellence in Engineering and Entrepreneurship award by the MIT Enterprise Forum® of Texas. The company was cited as the developer and manufacturer of Mikro-Tip® pressure transducer catheters and pressure-volume (PV) systems.
Huntly was intimately involved in the engineering and production of every product the company made. Though engineering was his passion, he had no problem going over to the production floor to help solve a problem or explain why something was done the way it was. He had a great passion for developing new things and sharing them with others. He loved showing off a new idea or device to someone and explaining until their eyes lit up with comprehension.
Hunt loved going to trade shows and working in the Millar booth. It was an opportunity to explain to customers and potential customers why they would benefit from using Millar catheters. He always brought something new to demonstrate. It might be a new product, a concept for a new product, a way to demonstrate the effectiveness of the Millar products, or just something fun he built and wanted to show off. There would inevitably be a series of colleagues and old friends stopping by to visit and catch up with the latest at Millar. They would be everything from students, med-students, cardiologists and administrators to fellow business owners.
Hunt was very humbled by the high regard his products were held in by the medical community, and he was proud that Millar products contributed so much to the advancement of medical science and the effective treatment of patients. His legacy and passion for innovation lives on at Millar, where our employees strive to leverage the latest technology to improve patient outcomes and enable new scientific discovery through collaboration with today's Millar customer.