You learn something new every day, the saying goes. And when Ron and Pamela Patterson attended a horse show with their ride-loving daughters in 2001, they learned something that would help them eventually become successful entrepreneurs.
The horse show featured a presentation on photon therapy, an innovative treatment method that uses precision-timed pulses of red and infrared light to both stimulate and accelerate the body’s natural healing processes. First patented for treating horses in 1982, photon therapy is used by physical therapists and chiropractors to successfully treat a variety of human muscle, bone and joint ailments.
“One of our daughters has scoliosis, so we were eager to see if photon therapy would help her,” says Pamela. “It was so successful, we wanted to help bring the therapy to other people.”
The Pattersons worked with a light and photon therapy equipment manufacturer to set up their own clinic. After two years, though, quality problems with that company’s equipment led the couple to investigate making their own treatment devices. “We contacted the original patent holder, who referred us to his engineer,” Ron says. “He became our business partner, and we worked with him to develop a cost-effective model, the LUMEN 90, that met all the required specifications for treatment.”
But building a business that relies on product development is far from easy. Luckily, SCORE mentor Connie Butler was by the Pattersons' side every step of the way.
Just two years after introducing the LUMEN 90, the Pattersons augmented their treatment services at Lumen Photon Therapy with a successful manufacturing and sales business largely by word-of-mouth referrals. The company is now poised for even more growth thanks to a highly favorable review from a widely respected practitioner and a prominent listing in a specialty medical equipment supply catalog.
“The LUMEN 90 is used by doctors and clinics around the world,” Pam says. “It’s all very exciting.”
As they were getting their business off the ground, Ron happened to catch a radio program about SCORE on the local NPR station. That led to a call to SCORE’s Western North Carolina chapter and their first meeting with mentor Connie Butler, the co-founder of a specialty chemical company.
Butler mentored the Pattersons through nearly every phase of their company’s start-up and growth, including business planning, finance, transitioning from a sole proprietorship into a corporation, marketing, and international sales.
“These were all things that we were encountering for the first time,” says Pamela, “But Connie was always just a phone call away with help, advice and moral support.”
As their company grows, the Pattersons can count on Connie Butler and SCORE being there every step of the way. “Although we started out with very little business experience, Connie always made us feel like we were capable of being successful,” Pamela says.