A Life in Specialized HME
Blue Chip Medical’s Ron Resnick describes his life-long quest to provide custom, quality care to patients.
- By David Kopf
- Nov 09, 2015
For Blue Chip Medical Products’ president and owner Ron Resnick, providing and creating durable medical equipment has been his life’s work and passion practically since he first entered the job market.
A high school athlete, Resnick got a scholarship to college for wrestling, and did his undergraduate degree at the University of Hartford. He graduated college, started working in retail and was offered a job at a provider called Kagle Surgical. At the time Harvey Diamond, who would eventually start Drive Medical, was the purchasing manager.
“There was no training back then,” Resnick recalls. “It was on-the-job training, and I decided I was going to be an expert in something, and it started in electro-therapy.”
So Resnick started specializing in selling TENS units, which at the time were the size of clock radios. He also specialized in biofeedback and EMG for muscle reeducation, as a means to get in the rehab business. Intrigued by that niche, Resnick began taking classes from makers of rehab equipment, and his hunger for knowledge prompted him to dig deeper.
“I started taking medical classes at Columbia University in New York,” he says. “They allowed me to sit in and learn, so I would sit there at night and learn about cerebral palsy, and neurological disorders, and started to become very proficient, and I spent my time doing pediatric rehabilitation products back then
“… I was like an ATP before ATPs were out,” he continues. “And I was very fortunate because I got to work with some very specialized therapists who knew about wheelchairs, and we started to develop a lot of wheelchairs for pediatrics.”
From there, Resnick and his peers developed a power reclining chair for patients with spinal chord injuries, and started developing various custom solutions for patients. By the late 1970s, this included custom inserts and accessories made out of durable, cleanable plastics.
Resnick — along with Diamond — then took the knowledge and skills he developed and joined Endicott Rental and Sales, a small, family-run provider, where he says they “started to dominate the rehab market significantly” by offering at-the-time unique items such as sip-and-puff chairs, power recliners, and specialized pediatric solutions.
“We were putting out product that nobody had,” he says. “… Manufacturers started to gravitate to us. … We were probably the largest, single-location rehab provider in the country.”
The company sold to Abbey Medical, which was a division of American Hospital Supply at the time, and then went onto to become Apria. Resnick stayed on board where he helped expand sales.
Resnick’s transition to manufacturing came when he made the move to a DME maker that was quickly picked up by Graham Field. He then went to Mason Medical as a sales manager, where he specialized in rehab products, specialized wheelchair cushions and mattresses. His friend Diamond, who had since become president and COO of Graham Field, invited Resnick back as vice president, where Resnick stayed for a while, but then eventually founded Blue Chip Medical Products.
And perhaps the company’s name, coined by Resnick’s son, sums up Resnick’s founding mission: providing top-tier, blue chip-quality medical products.
“When I first started out, I had a reputation in the mattress business,” he said. “When it came to product, I always felt that my product knowledge and direction and education helped the dealer and provider make better choices. So when I set up Blue Chip, I wanted to be the Nordstrom of healthcare. I wanted to put out a better product with features that were usable; not marketable nonsense, but real features based on the expertise that I developed over the 18 years prior to doing Blue Chip.”
To that point, Blue Chip still offers one its signature products, the Supreme Air, and Resnick says his company just serviced an original unit from 18 years ago. When offered a new replacement, the family that owned it refused saying they wanted to keep the unit because it was so reliable.
“DME, to me, is durable medical equipment,” Resnick says.
Resnick says he’s proud of the company, facility and team that Blue Chip has developed, and the fact that the company continues to manufacture the majority of its products in the United States.
“My best assets are the people who work here,” he explains. “Blue Chip is going to be 21 years old, and the people that have been with me since I started this are still with me.”
The key for Blue Chip, Resnick says, is to help providers know that custom, therapeutic options are not only available, but still profitable. The company now offers pressure mapping products, offers CEU courses on pressure mapping, and will even help providers conduct pressure mapping studies.
“It’s all about education,” he says. “We want to help the dealer make a better choice. Even in a competitive environment with price, you don’t have to buy the least expensive, non-effective product. I’m never going to be the cheapest guy on the street — I don’t want to be — but you will get a very high-quality, cost-effective, clinically effective product.”
This article originally appeared in the November 2015 issue of HME Business.
David Kopf is the Editor of HME Business.