Twenty-eight years ago, Gary Krause was working as a Blasting Foreman in a Milwaukee deep tunnel when a five pound weight dropped from 100 feet above hit him on the head. By all rights, he should have died that day; instead, this super-energetic entrepreneur is riding high!

The serious injury he sustained partially paralyzed him for a time and permanently prevented him from continuing in that line of work. Married with two children, Gary began to consider other career paths, eventually deciding to return to school to study nursing.

Flash forward twenty-five years. In 2010, Gary, a cardiac nurse who has focused his 20 year career on emergency medicine and cardiac education, working extensively with Electrocardiograph (EKG) machines, is teaching a class at Gateway Technical College. He sees among his students the frequent inability to detect instances of EKG abnormalities, which in patient care settings could lead to potentially life-threatening situations. His observations confirm the outcome of a 2007 study - that 1 in 8 emergency room patient EKG reports are misread and their conditions misdiagnosed. Gary realizes that providing tools to assist practitioners in accurately reading EKG reports could drastically reduce the incidence of error so in 2010 he designs some tools and sets about the process of patenting his inventions. These laminated aids display 41 EKG rhythms scaled to size, allowing personnel to quickly, accurately and easily, connect EKG leads, read reports, diagnose problems and also facilitate effective communication about the results with the patient. Patents are quickly awarded on his one-of-a-kind products and EKG Concepts is born. Once “business shy,” this recent entrepreneur is now a confident business owner.

In 2012, two of his products received top honors at the Journal of Emergency Services Conference. In just three short years, Gary has developed six unique products which are already being translated into Spanish and has signed an exclusive domestic and international distribution contract, freeing him up to do what he does best – introduce his products to the medical industry. They sell themselves. Annual sales doubled in both 2011 and 2012 and are expected to triple in 2013.

How did this tunnel worker turned cardiac nurse turned entrepreneur learn the ins and outs of business? “I did what I would advise anyone in the same position to do - I used the resources available,” he says. “I contacted the Integrated Manufacturing and Engineering Technology (IMET) Center at Gateway Technical College and Kate Walker there helped me research and determine the size of my key target market segments. Kate referred me to SCORE where I was paired with Volunteer Mentor Mike Gibbs. Words cannot describe how much help he has been to me,” Gary declares. “Mike is an excellent communicator and a real professional who made me realize the importance of marketing and market analysis, essential elements to my business plan and key to negotiating my distribution contract. He has not only assisted me all along the way – he has become a real friend. He reins me in, tells me when I’m going too fast and keeps me focused.”

A home equity line of credit combined with consistent sales enabled Gary to take his products to market without seeking a business loan. Today, EKG Concepts is “in the black” and has barely scratched the surface of the potential market, which includes hospitals, medical clinics, nursing schools and paramedic operations worldwide.

This successful inventor and entrepreneur has come a long way since that life-threatening accident, even encouraging others to follow in his footsteps by urging his graphic designer and photographer to form their own companies. Confidently insisting on the highest quality from his suppliers, Gary is an engaging and outgoing proponent of his products and a firm believer in the value of his relationship with SCORE. As he explains it, “Everything happens for a reason.” Indeed.

 

How SCORE Helped: 

How did a tunnel worker turned cardiac nurse turned entrepreneur learn the ins and outs of business? “I did what I would advise anyone in the same position to do - I used the resources available,” Gary Krause says. “I contacted the Integrated Manufacturing and Engineering Technology (IMET) Center at Gateway Technical College and Kate Walker there helped me research and determine the size of my key target market segments. Kate referred me to SCORE where I was paired with Volunteer Mentor Mike Gibbs. Words cannot describe how much help he has been to me,” Gary declares. “Mike is an excellent communicator and a real professional who made me realize the importance of marketing and market analysis, essential elements to my business plan and key to negotiating my distribution contract. He has not only assisted me all along the way – he has become a real friend. He reins me in, tells me when I’m going too fast and keeps me focused.”

EKG Concepts