What drives your passion for the medical business?
I love being a nurse and providing anesthesia. I believe strongly in advocating for patients when they are under anesthesia. My products are safety positioning products that protect the patients face during surgery.
How did you come up with your product?
Seven years ago, we began robotic surgical procedures at our local hospital. I noticed in certain procedures the arms of the robot would swing very close to the anesthetized patients face. My anesthesia colleagues were starting to use a variety of different make-shift ways to protect the face. I would make my own and thought it worked pretty well. I was encouraged by Dr. Bill Nowak (a well-known robotic surgeon) to try and develop the product further and bring it to market. In 2013, that product became the VisiWrap. Visi stands for Visibility, Innovative, Safety, Implementation.
What is the secret to running a small business in Northern Michigan?
Running April Surgical Products in Northern Michigan is extremely fulfilling. We are surrounded by such positive and supportive small businesses throughout this community. Everyone is always networking and trying to help each other grow and become successful. I am part of a woman in a business group called Running in Heels, we meet monthly and discuss our small businesses. We set goals and hold each other accountable. We have zoom meetings and help each other brainstorm new ideas of how we can all help our community during times of struggle. It’s just a really incredible place to live as an entrepreneur.
What are you looking forward to in the future?
2020 is a big year for April Surgical Products! I have moved my manufacturing to Traverse City, currently working with Grand Traverse Industries. This has been a dream of mine for the last 5 years and it’s finally happening. Grand Traverse Industries provides advocacy, employment, and training support services to persons with intellectual and developmental disabilities to help them achieve their highest level of independence. I am excited to have the manufacturing right here in my back yard. I love that I can stop at any time and help out and just get to know these incredibly hard-working individuals better. I have opened up distribution to two companies. KLM Medical Equipment is handling sales throughout the United States, while RSS Medical Distributors is handling sales throughout all governmental hospitals. Both April Surgical Products are made here in the United States and that is something I’ve been really proud of.
How do you balance a large family with running a small business?
Balance in life is something I believe we are all working on. First off, I am a Mother to five incredible boys. Children are the greatest gift and the best reason to work this hard at my small business. They ask why we work so hard at this and I say, “just trying to send you to Notre Dame guys.” The kids watch us work hard at this and they love seeing which state the product is going to. My husband, Matt, is my best friend and a huge reason I can do any of this. He is the brains behind the marketing, QuickBooks, shipping, etc. I also work full-time as a Nurse Anesthetist for Traverse Anesthesia Associates. They truly are my work family and some of the greatest minds behind why the VisiWrap products have come this far. My colleagues have all tried them, asked for changes to be made, etc. Our surgeons have also been instrumental in developing and supporting the VisiWrap products. The ultimate way I find balance is my strong faith in God. Every day is a new day, a chance to pray more, respond to struggles and hardships with more grace. A chance to be a better wife, mom, friend, and colleague. There are days I fail at the balance. The older I get, the more forgiving I am with myself and more motivated I am to try harder the next day.
Can you share a piece of advice with readers?
If you have an idea for a small business…. GO FOR IT! The process can be intimidating and overwhelming at times. Patent bills, prototyping, finding the right place to manufacture, setting up distribution, keeping cost down…it’s all hard work. Nothing happens overnight.This Northern Michigan Community has people everywhere that want to help and support you. The banks work with you, patent experts work with you, businesses work to support you. TC NewTech is a great resource. Just go for it!
www. aprilsurgical.com Instagram:@aprilsurgical
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