Jeff Swoveland and Maria Fattore Gill founded ReGear Life Sciences in 2006 after purchasing some U.S. Navy technology they knew had the makings of a medical-grade heating device; however, in the beginning, they didn’t have the capital to uncover it. “We really bootstrapped it for the first year and a half,” explains Jeff. “We operated out of a garage. We wouldn’t have made it without funding from IW to do the initial product development work.”
That initial investment capital, as well as IW’s entrepreneurial services, helped ReGear through those first few years. Today, ReGear offers a full line of thermotherapy devices that can be used to combat a variety of ailments including chronic pain, arthritis, muscle spasms and joint contractures. The company has many large, national accounts that are taking ReGear products out through their entire health systems. They expect 10x growth in revenues this year.
Despite this tremendous growth, the company only has five full-time employees. This is because ReGear outsources many of its functions to other small companies in the Southwestern Pennsylvania region. Working on a project-by-project basis, the company estimates it collaborates with 35 to 40 people in over a dozen companies to bring its products from design through engineering to marketing and distribution. ReGear, however, always makes sure it owns the customer experience in-house. This project-based mindset has not only kept the company lean and flexible, but has also supported other small businesses in the region that other startups can take advantage of, helping to maintain a robust entrepreneurial environment that facilitates the continuation of innovative companies and products coming out of the region.
This approach has been working. ReGear is ramping up production and is expecting to hire four people by the end of the year. The biggest obstacle they see in front of them is keeping up with demand while maintaining their high standard of superb customer service. Their five-year goal is for their therapeutic heating products to be the standard of care in the industry, and they are well on their way. What started with an investment from Innovation Works has turned into a profitable company whose activities support itself as well as contribute to the success of over 10 other companies in the region.