John W. Brown
Brown took the helm of Stryker upon the death of its CEO (the founder’s son). In a short period of time, Stryker built the small company into a medical products powerhouse. Taking the company public in 1977, Brown oversaw phenomenal growth. Revenues increased from $23 million in 1977 to $4 billion by 2004, and the number of employees increased from 325 to 15,000 during the same time period. Brown steadfastly expanded the company’s product lines and introduced an effective decentralized management structure as the company grew.