Curbell Inc

 Doug RockwoodFounded more than 60 years ago, privately held Curbell Inc (Orchard Park, NY) operates two business divisions: an industrial plastics division and an electronics division. The electronics division manufactures, assembles, and distributes medical devices and their accessories for use in acute or long-term care. Recently, 24×7 spoke with Doug Rockwood, general manager of the electronics division, about the evolution of the biomedical market and what today’s companies need to stay competitive in business.

24×7: What products does Curbell’s electronics division offer?
Doug Rockwood:
We’ve recently categorized our product portfolio into four product lines. First and foremost is our nurse call–integration product line. The core product in this family is our “pillow speaker.” This device enables patients to call for help, change the channel and volume on their television, and adjust the lighting in the room.

Also, we manufacture, assemble, and distribute accessories for health care bed products and services. Examples of these accessories are bed controls that enable patients to control the pitch or angle of their bed at the head or knee.

Our third line of products is the systems-product line, which includes a full line of fall-management products designed and developed to alert a caregiver when a patient is either about to fall or has fallen out of bed. Also in the systems-product family, we now offer a paging product. It’s a simple device that is designed to alert either the patient or the patient’s family in settings such as same-day surgery waiting rooms. The need for this product came about in response to the recent HIPAA-compliance regulations regarding patient privacy.

Our fastest growing line is our patient-monitoring line, which includes replacement cards for ECG machines and telemetry, leads, and SPO2 replacement sensors.

24×7: How do Curbell’s new paging products address patient privacy?
Rockwood:
A patient and family walk into a hospital and register with an attendant. When it’s that patient’s family’s turn to be called, the attendant uses the paging product, rather than calling out the name or broadcasting it over the intercom, preserving privacy. The pager also gives the patient the ability to roam while waiting. Sometimes the wait can be quite long.

24×7: How does Curbell market its products?
Rockwood:
We have a unique three-tiered distribution channel model. A segment of our business is focused on OEMs, to whom we supply a wide variety of products. Our commercial-accounts tier comprises system integraters and/or installers of nurse call and television. The largest piece of our revenues comes from our direct sales tier. Typically our customers are biomedical engineers, hospital maintenance personnel, and clinical engineers.

24×7: What makes Curbell stand out from its competitors?
Rockwood:
Our business model includes three components: customer needs, resources and capabilities, and a value proposition—what we uniquely bring to the customer.

In terms of customer needs, we understand compatibility, integration, and convenience; and we continue to strive in these areas. From a resources and capabilities standpoint, over time we’ve built quite a bit of brand recognition and integration know-how, and now we are able to use it to our advantage.

Finally, from a value proposition standpoint, again, we offer unique compatibility and integration skills. The ability to sort through different systems and equipment takes coordinated effort and technical know-how. We have the ability to talk to biomedical or clinical engineers and share our knowledge of what is required to satisfy their needs.

Curbell is fortunate to have a strong balance sheet with unconditional commitment and support from its owners—a great resource. We’re not trying to be an end-all to our customers, but I think we are doing a better job of understanding the opportunities in the industry and sorting through those that fit our business model and those that don’t.