In 1977 my wife and I decided to step out on a shaky limb and start our own business. Shaky because all I had were a couple of ideas, no business education or experience. Make it for a dollar and sell it (hopefully) for two. That was the extent of my knowledge. At age 46 I was foolhardy, as well as ignorant. Also, out of work at the moment. It’s now 38 years later and we managed to dodge the statistics that show most new business failing in the first five years. Fortunately the gods are merciful to fools and children and here we are.
Our first product we dubbed “Cutnot.” It was a microtome knife guard for histologists. Why the microtome manufacturers didn’t build that feature into their products eludes me. Now they do. We sold thousands of them before the manufacturers got the message.
I got a part-time job developing a laboratory in a small-town hospital. The administrator decided I was the ideal sucker to be the head of the infection control committee. One of the essentials of infection control is isolation signs. The Government Printing Office made these, but they consisted of many lines of small print that no one in a hurry (meaning everybody) was going to read. So I stole a leaf from the international highway signs that used silhouette images and I had an artist develop symbols for masks, gowns, gloves and handwashing. Knowing nothing about the technology of printing, I asked a printer who had made laboratory forms for me to print these in the category-specific colors. The printing machines were high-speed web presses that whizzed the paper out at 60 miles-per-hour. Unfortunately, the ink ended up where it wasn’t supposed to be and I think we trashed a ton of unusable paper. After that, I learned about sheet presses and eventually coated paper and we came up with a usable product, which turned out to be a commercial success. Now everybody uses these pictographs, but we were the first in this arena.
Next came handwashing training. We developed the GlitterBug line of hand hygiene training products to show hand hygiene results under a black light and to illuminate ways to improve technique.
And now, well into my 80’s, I’m gambling the whole shebang on developing a hospital overbed table that converts to a patient transport wheelchair in two seconds. Sold old fools just don’t know when to stop.
Providence has smiled on us. Mostly. It has been a ride with ups and downs but thanks to you, our loyal customers, we are still here.