By: Maureen Newman, UVC Biomedical Engineering Community Connector
In one fell swoop, Gorbel Medical took the physical rehabilitation market by surprise and unveiled its SafeGait 360° Balance and Mobility Trainer at the Combined Sections Meeting (CSM) 2015, the annual conference of the American Physical Therapy Association. “It was amazing. We now have so many leads,” described Dan Sauda, National Sales Manager of Gorbel, Inc.‘s Medical Division. Involved in Gorbel Medical since June 2014, Sauda was brough on to launch the national sales force behind SafeGait.
“You only have one opportunity to launch,” said Sauda. “We actually had our working trade show unit there, and it was great. We waited to deploy our full website to make sure our splash was at CSM. The competition saw us at CSM the year before when we had only a 10×10 booth and were still under development. They knew we were coming, but they were surprised.”
Although SafeGait is a new product and completely different from the competition, Sauda acknowledges the competition paved the way for this type of device in the physical rehabilitation market. “It is tough to be first,” said Sauda. “They began to develop the market, and then we came out with SafeGait that offers added functionality that surpasses their offerings. SafeGait also provides solutions to key challenges faced by therapists.”
SafeGait’s origin has a story unique to many products in other businesses, but not so unique at Gorbel. “It has such a great story,” said Sauda. In 2012, an employee at Gorbel approached President and Chief Executive Officer Brian Reh with her personal experience with a loved one’s gait and balance rehabilitation sessions. “She felt as though Gorbel could take some of its existing technology from the crane and rail side of the business and transfer it to address challendges in the traditional physical therapy setting. It is an example of how an employee’s creativity and input led to a new division at Gorbel that generally would have never existed had it not been for this employee who brought an idea to the CEO,” commented Sauda. “Reh, along with the other executive team members at Gorbel have fostered a great work environment that allows employees to flourish. Not very many organizations allow this kind of candidness that can help the company flourish, but it is important to the culture at Gorbel.”
As a leader in overhead material handling, lifting, and safety systems, Gorbel was well suited to develop SafeGait. The design and development team worked with over 100 therapists nationwide to understand the issues encountered during gait imbalance training. “Our two primary helpers were Nazareth College and The Ohio State University,” said Sauda. “We installed a unit at Nazareth in November and will install one at Ohio in early April. We have also sold one to Monroe Community Hospital and one to the University of Rochester Medical Center. After CSM, we are very close to closing several deals with facilities across the country.”
As National Sales Manager, Sauda “wears many hats” but primarily manages the sales channel of direct representatives who work for Gorbel Medical and a distribution network of independent medical representatives across the country. “Everyone enjoys coming to work and working for this organization,” said Sauda. “Our commitment is extremely high to the medical division. We will be expanding on SafeGait and developing other products that can complement SafeGait.”
Along the way, Gorbel Medical is seeking help from MedTech, whom they joined in summer 2014. “We were introduced by a partner organization we were working with to launch SafeGait when attending the annual dinner at Buffalo last year,” recalled Sauda. Being part of MedTech allows Gorbel Medical’s employees to use training resources, as some have never worked in the medical field before. It also provides a network for both sales and partnerships as they launch SaifGait. “The medical division is robust,” said Sauda. “We have several employees in charge of different roles and responsibilities, and MedTech offers services we can benefit from. It is a great collaboration and we enjoy the time with them very much.”