Don’t take any shortcuts. Keep your word and be trustworthy. If you are honest and fail in business, you can work out the kinks and re-launch with a better product or business model.
In 1993, Aaron Goldsmith founded Transfer Master Products Inc., a company that designs, builds and distributes custom electric beds designed for people with special needs. Since 1998, he has served as a community leader and activist in Postville, Iowa, a remote town in the Midwest that has, as he puts it, “everything you need for a Jewish lifestyle.” After serving as city councilman from 2000 to 2003, Goldsmith co-authored Postville, U.S.A.: Surviving Diversity in Small Town America,together with the University of Northern Iowa professors Mark A. Gray and Michele Devlin. Although Goldsmith is a dedicated father, grandfather and entrepreneur, he still manages to find time to help others and the community at large.
For more information about Transfer Master Products Inc., visit www.TransferMaster.com/about-us
What sets Transfer Master Products Inc. (TMP) apart from other medical equipment companies?
Firstly, our specialty is servicing individual clients, not large healthcareorganizations. No other company in the industry does exactly what we do; we conduct extensive evaluations to determine each customer’s specific circumstances and requirements, and customize our products to meet each individual’s particular needs. Our product line includes custom-made beds that can be tailored to coordinate with existing furniture. We once customized a bed for a legless Kuwaiti shipping magnate who sent one of his ships to the United States to pick it up.
Our clientele includes a number of celebrities, the most memorable of which was Christopher Reeve, the actor who played Superman until 1995 when he fell off of a horse and sustained a spinal injury that left him paralyzed from the neck down. When he made his first public appearance in a wheelchair at the Academy Awards in 1996, TMP was part of the behind-the-scenes team that adapted his lodgings to meet his special needs.
We once placed a blind bid on a bed for Boeing 747 flying emergency room. After retracting our bid, we were surprised to discover that the bed was for Yasser Arafat.
What led you to go into this line of business?
My specialty is market-driven engineering, and I discovered an unfilled need in the market. While working for a company repairing medical equipment, I learned that hospital beds were too high for people in wheelchairs to transfer in and out of by themselves. An idea was born, and I secured a patent for the first bed that could be adjusted to a height below that of a standard wheelchair. In addition to the revolutionary feature, we also designed the bed to have a more homey appeal by making it look like ordinary furniture and less like a hospital bed. Before TMP came around, medical companies designed their products with the convenience of nurses, aides, medical staff and delivery companies in mind, and with little or no consideration for the people using the equipment. TMP’s goal is to restore the dignity of individuals with illnesses and disabilities by enabling them to live as normally as possible, whether in a hospital or at home.
What would you say is the secret to your success?
One of the keys to our success is our goal to always under-promise and over-deliver. More importantly, we always listen attentively to each customer’s needs and customize our products accordingly. Instead of mass-producing a new product, we hand build each model until it meets the customer’s exact needs and preferences. If there’s popular demand for a new feature then we promote the concept on a larger scale. We recently launched a patent pending new bed called the Floor Hugger, designed with our clients’ needs in mind. The first year’s revenue for the Floor Hugger exceeded all of the combined revenue for the model it replaced.
Since rural Postville is a central shipping location, we’ve been able to substantially reduce our overhead costs. Postville has also provided us with access to a dedicated and honest workforce, while allowing us to enjoy the benefits of a wonderful frum community and affordable housing!
Did you face any obstacles when you started out?
We faced a number of obstacles, the biggest being that I had no money, experience, or practical knowledge of the industry. Our products weren’t reimbursed by Medicare, so customers had to pay all costs out of pocket, substantially limiting our market of potential clients. Additionally, being a Shomer Shabbos company, we had difficulty with exposure and market research since most medical equipment shows took place on weekends.
We advertised directly to consumers, who benefited from our products and then brought them to the attention of their health-care providers who then promoted them to other patients.
What projects are you currently working on?
We are currently working to raise our profile by hiring a team of experts who work with rehab equipment providers. We’ve developed more affordable models that will be easier to retail directly to end-users, and we’ve redesigned all of our sales materials. We’ve also developed a unique, user-driven blog calledwww.rollingwithoutlimits.com.
Additionally, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare, made many medical dealers realize that to stay in business they need to do more non-insurance cash sales, a factor that has been working to our benefit.
What is the most valuable piece of advice you would give to someone looking to start a business in the medical industry?
Don’t take any shortcuts. Keep your word and be trustworthy. If you are honest and fail in business, you can work out the kinks and re-launch with a better product or business model. But if you fail because of dishonesty, it is nearly impossible to regain your reputation. A good name is one of the most important things in business, especially for the Jewish people who are always under the microscope. If you’re true to Hashem and to your customers and suppliers, you stand a greater chance of making it in the business world.