For a decade, Bob Grzeskowiak provided local ultrasound service and parts as the founder and sole employee of Midwest Imaging. His business began to grow as reputation of his work spread. Midwest Imaging added employees and expanded its geographic reach beyond its original St Charles, Mo, home. Today, the business, now called MW Imaging, has a footprint that spans the country. With more than 2 decades in the business, Grzeskowiak has found an approach that works, with innovative approaches to business, such as providing free 24/7 support and the “hero kit.” Grzeskowiak sat down with 24×7 to discuss these topics and more.
24×7: What motivated you to found MW Imaging?
Grzeskowiak: I saw a need for a non-OEM alternative. I founded the company in order to offer customer savings on systems, parts, probes, travel, and labor. Working with several different brands of ultrasound systems such as General Electric, Philips, Siemens, and Toshiba enables MW Imaging to address all of our customers’ ultrasound needs. Geographically, we have service centers in the Midwest, Northeast, Mid-Atlantic, and Southeast regions. MW Imaging also has service liaisons with other screened service companies, enabling us to provide service logistically throughout the United States.
A Quick Take
24×7: What is your background in the industry?
Grzeskowiak: My background includes degrees in electrical engineering and electronic engineering technology with a minor in business. I began working in the medical industry in 1981 as an ultrasound field engineer for Smith Kline, Ekoline, Agilent, and Hewlett-Packard. I founded MW Imaging in December 1991.
24×7: Who are your customers?
Grzeskowiak: Major hospitals throughout the United States, along with a well-established international customer pool, doctors’ offices, imaging centers, independent third-party service, and parts dealers. We are a multimodality provider. People like going to one source for tech support and parts.
24×7: How has the company grown since its founding?
Grzeskowiak: Basically, it just started out with me for the first 10 years. I was just doing local service, servicing parts and probes. People started hearing about what I was involved in, and it just started to spread by word of mouth. Some major hospital chains starting hearing about it. Then I started advertising. About 7 years ago, I moved into a larger building, close to 10,000 feet. From there, I hired more people. We now have 10 employees at three facilities.
24×7: What products and services do you provide?
Grzeskowiak: We provide customized service contracts for system service and PMs. We offer transducer repair and exchange, and complete ultrasound systems with a 1-year warranty. Examples of the way we help serve our customers include our free loaner TEE, general, 3D and 4D probes, free 24/7 technical support, hero kits, and 90-day warranties on tested OEM parts.
24×7: Can you describe how your loaner probe program works?
Grzeskowiak: Our probe loaner program has been in service for more than 10 years. Providing loaner probes to our customer base ensures a quick turnaround time, reduces revenue loss, and increases customer satisfaction. Generally, major hospitals utilize our probe loaner program. For example, TEE probes are used in heart surgeries where downtime is not optional. Next-day or same-day delivery of TEE probes enables imaging centers to complete critical care surgeries.
24×7: What’s in your hero kit?
Grzeskowiak: A hero kit is basically a collection of several circuit boards that might be the cause of a problem. Sometimes when you have a critical situation, it’s best to cover all the avenues. We ship out every possible board that could be behind whatever the issue is. We ship out all the boards, and customers return the ones they don’t need. We only charge them for the board they use.
24×7: When potential customers are considering working with you, what has tended to be your key differentiator?
Grzeskowiak: I think people hear about our 24/7 tech support. First of all, people love the fact that we give free tech support; I think most companies now are charging for tech support. If you say you need part X, we ship it out and provide support. After the product is installed, we provide assistance. I do get calls at night and on the weekend. A while back we had a customer call on a Saturday morning. It was an imaging facility. They were down and had a lot of patients on Monday morning. They needed a board sent out. I drove to the office, packed up a hero kit, and went to FedEx. They were up by 9 in the morning on Monday.
24×7: You recently rebranded your company, changing your name from Midwest Imaging to MW Imaging. Why the switch?
Grzeskowiak: The name Midwest Imaging implied we were only available in the Midwest. Because we have expanded our service offering over the last several years, we felt it was time to change our name.
24×7: You also revamped the website. What’s the goal behind the redesign?
Grzeskowiak: Our prior website was dated. The name change warranted a new, fresher, more professional look. In addition to basic company info, we’re going to have a blog, updates for customers on the shows we’re going to, a section on technical support notes, and information on error codes and possible causes.
24×7: What other plans do you have in the near future?
Grzeskowiak: Our plans are to add more in-house engineering staff to refurbish systems, repair parts and probes, and expand research and design capabilities of new OEM ultrasound platforms. About every 5 or 7 years, a new platform will come out. After about 1 year, the warranty is up. With that being said, we want more staff on hand to do the R&D engineering. The additional staff will help enhance our inventory, and we’ll be able to repair and restock more quickly. 24×7 July 2007 Industry Insider
Kurt Woock is the associate editor of 24×7. Contact him at [email protected].