As a child, Matt Redner remembers being enlisted to help work on surgical microscopes for the family business. Redner’s father started Prescott’s Inc in 1985 in the basement of the family’s Colorado home, refurbishing and selling scopes deemed too out of date to keep by their original owners. Today, Redner is still on board at the company his father started as manager of its service component. The once family-sized operation has grown to include 26 in-house and field techs located throughout the country, who work on every brand of surgical microscope. 24×7 recently spoke to Redner to find out how the company has grown, where it’s going, and why buying refurbished pays off.
24×7: The last time 24×7 spoke with you was in 2006. What’s been happening with the company since then?
Redner: Since then, we’ve added about 10 or 12 service techs and have grown exponentially. Service has almost become its own entity, whereas it started off in more of a supporting role. We’ve really increased the number of people we have working on it and the number of things we’re able to repair. We now have a technician who is able to repair most every kind of binocular. The biggest thing that’s changed in the past 2 years, however, is our experience level. We’ve gotten our hands on a lot more equipment, and we’ve had to add a lot more people to make up for the boom that we’ve seen.
24×7: Does business ever pick up when the economy tightens and customers are more anxious to save money?
Redner: Yes, I would say so. If you go to a hospital, all the equipment there has to be new and they’ll spend the money for it. But when it’s a surgery center, and when it’s a doctor’s money on the line, things change a bit more. Doctors will say, “We can use this if it can be fixed.” It’s not just the economy, although that has helped, but surgery centers and smaller facilities are more apt to save money, regardless of tough times.
24×7: How do you ensure that your techs are keeping up with the latest technology and industry trends?
Redner: Because we do refurbishment, we see a lot of newer microscopes that come though our shops and we take full advantage of them on the service side. Not only are those scopes good for us to sell because they’re still somewhat new, but they’re good for us to get our hands on and get as much information from as we can. Then we can bring our sales guys in for training when we have something new. Plus, the more our techs are out there the more they see, and they are able to share information between each other. The sharing of information between each guy definitely helps.
24×7: How often do you recommend clinics/hospitals change or upgrade their microscope equipment?
Redner: The most popular scope we sell is a basic ENT microscope. There are a lot of people that buy microscopes that they don’t need to. A lot of doctors see the newest scope and say, “I have to have it,” but when it costs 70 or 80 thousand dollars, and when the basic principle of the microscope hasn’t changed to the point where you have to upgrade it, I think that just may be a lot of sales pressure there. We’ve talked people out of buying microscopes, even from us, because they don’t really need to. If they say there’s something they’re not happy with, we ask them why they aren’t happy with it. Maybe there’s something functionally wrong with it that can be fixed.
24×7: It could also be cosmetic. Correct?
Redner: Exactly. We do realize that appearances are important, and so we have a program where if someone wants to have their scope refurbished, we’ll have our guys go through and change out the cables, consumable items, and put new casters on it, basically making it look good again, and then putting a 2-year warranty on it. It’s been very popular so far.
24×7: How do customers benefit from purchasing refurbished equipment from you as opposed to new equipment?
Redner: The biggest benefit is monetary, and you’re also going to get a 2-year warranty. We have intact service reps located throughout the country. We have someone local, so you’re not out there trying to find someone to fix your scope. We can have a local rep out the same day.
24×7: What are the difficulties in repairing so many types and brands of microscopes?
Redner: Inventory is probably the biggest thing, because there are so many scopes out there. The more clients we add the more demand there is and, ultimately, the more parts we need. Right now, we have three large warehouses full of equipment that we are constantly dipping into when we need to. We don’t refurbish anything until we have an order for it. The second thing is the newer equipment. A lot of it is getting away from being mechanical and becoming dependent on software, which we don’t always have access to yet—we will at some point. 24×7
24×7: What is Prescott’s approach to customer service?
Redner: My wife reminds me all the time whenever I’m having a bad day that no matter how bad it is, at least you’re helping somebody. And I’ve taken that to heart. We’re not about taking advantage of people or telling them they have to replace something when they don’t. We’re in this for the long haul, and for that you have to win the customer’s respect. We take care of our customers, save them money, and get them running, hopefully while keeping everybody happy.
24×7: What does Prescott’s have in store for the future?
Redner: We’ll probably add a few more people at some point. We are also moving to a bigger space, where we’ll be able to do more work. We have own our own machine company and we’re doing a lot of work for the aerospace industry, including manufacturing pieces of satellites and things we’ve never done in the past. As far as the service side, the more scopes we can get our hands on the more we can work on. I just look forward to the day when we can work on everything. The biggest thing is to continue growing.
24×7: Are you also developing your own microscopes?
Redner: Yes. Currently, we manufacture quite a few floor stands, wall mounts, light sources, and video components. We are in the process of manufacturing our own eye and ENT microscopes. We’ve worked with everyone in the past as distributors and refurbishers. In the end, we realized we like working for ourselves the best. We don’t want to have to pay someone else to repair something that they have nothing to do with.
Stephen Noonoo is associate editor of 24×7. Contact him at .