Steve Oughton founded GH Healthcare nearly seven years ago, working from his garage. The business now has a staff of 13 and he’s recently moved the business to a combined warehouse/office complex in Triton Drive in North Harbour to accommodate the growing business.
It all started just over 18 years ago when his elderly mother had a stroke and was sent home after her hospital rehabilitation with minimal support care, limited access to ongoing therapy and a gloomy prognosis for the future. Steve and his brother searched out products that could make her life more comfortable and potentially improve her mobility, and purchased massage products that over time and with regular use improved her mobility and quality of life.
With a background in business (including in healthcare for 15 years) and as a successful athletics coach, Steve took a detailed interest in the products, and “ended up” working for the company. He then, with his wife Minting Fu, a doctor who had specialised in therapy massage during her training in China, formed his own company. Together, they sourced similar products from China, all with German-engineered motors: highly sophisticated beds, chairs, massage cushions and a massage wand that offer CVT (cycloidal vibration therapy).
CVT, says Steve as he demonstrates the wand’s vibrating action, is a gentle form of massage that offers more than traditional “lineal” massage. It penetrates deeply into the muscles and stimulates the circulation, and its use is backed by medical research. It is suitable for stroke patients, as well as people with arthritis, diabetes or mobility limitations, and is beneficial for anyone who engages in sport or physical exercise. “The relaxation offered by CVT assists in easing aching muscles and improving joint mobility,” he says, noting that it was the immediate benefits he noted in his mother’s mobility that initially compelled him to become interested. “I was convinced,” he says. The fact that his mother continued with CVT and lived a decade longer than doctors had originally predicted further cemented his belief in the products and his own faith in opening his own business.
“As a person gets older,” he says, “their circulation deteriorates dramatically. The chairs and beds make you feel a million dollars.” They certainly won’t cure arthritis or diabetes, he’s quick to emphasise, but they do offer a drug-free alterative to easing pain and improving mobility. “They’re designed for comfort and improving the quality of life. All our products use CVT and we’ve found they help almost everyone.”
The company offers four key products. A portable massage wand that can ease aches and pains in specific parts of the body and a massage cushion were both designed by Steve for functional and ergonomic benefits; a massage therapy chair has a thermo-heat panel in the back region as well as eight massage actions and a fully reclining action to turn the chair into a day-bed; and a sophisticated massage therapy bed in five sizes that is fully touch-button adjustable. “Twenty minutes massage on the bed,” says Steve, “is the equivalent of a brisk walk.” Of course doctors will prescribe the walk, but the reality is that many people for whom the bed is suitable are unable to walk that far, or are simply not motivated to do so.
Steve has five consultants who visit all prospective clients (and their caregivers, if relevant), discuss the client’s needs and recommend the right product for each person before they decide to purchase. The consultants also advise on how to use the products and can design a programme that will deliver maximum individual benefit. Six people work in the call centre at the company’s base. They are all trained to answer questions and can arrange a consultant’s visit on request.
“We bring in stock ahead of sales,” says Steve. “We can promise delivery within six days of order.”
GH Healthcare (the GH stands for Gulf Harbour, where he was living at the time he formed the company) remains very much a business with family at its heart, with Minting and his daughter Courtney both actively involved. With annual turnover now exceeding $3m annually, it’s seen impressive growth since its formation, and Steve is proud that he’s also able to give back to the community, supporting causes that help older people.
Sidebar: GH Healthcare also supplies soft, flexible bamboo fibre pillows, that provide perfect support for the head or neck. Steve is offering one of these pillows, worth more than $100, to the first 20 Channel Magazine readers over 65 with arthritis, diabetes or recovering from strokes who book an appointment to find out more about GH Healthcare’s products and how they can help them live a more comfortable, mobile life. Call 09 478 9650 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
GH Healthcare, 14-22 Triton Drive Albany 09 4789650 www.ghhealthcare.co.nz