Howie Bartz Shares His Personal Approach to Overcoming Hurdles and Persevering as an Entrepreneur

Howie Bartz earned his bachelor of science in physical therapy from Daemen College, graduating summa cum laude. After graduation, Howie Bartz worked as a physical therapist for five years in two outpatient centers that he owned and operated. He then worked as an account manager for RS Medical from 2000 to 2007, where he was in charge of the sales and management of durable medical equipment.

Howie Bartz founded Meditech in 2007 and is currently the president of the medical service company that seeks to provide both quality products and services.

Meditech supplies durable medical equipment like braces and conductive garments, compound pharmaceuticals, physical therapy systems, and urine site collection. Howie Bartz uses both his business skills and his scientific knowledge to develop products. He also created the Bartz Bracing Systems, a product line of specially designed back, knee, and neck braces, as well as TENS units.

Aside from physical therapy and his work with Meditech, Bartz is interested in stock and options trading, having completed both live and online coursework in these fields. In his spare time, he engages in theater, surfing, golf, travel, snowboarding, and tennis.

We were fortunate enough to spend some with Howie Bartz who shared his approach to handling difficult clients as well as how he has handled failures as an entrepreneur.

What was the worst job you ever had and what did you learn from it?  

I worked in a factory called Fibercell in Portville, NY.  Growing up in a small town there weren’t a lot of employment options. But, I needed money for college and factory work paid the best at the time. The hours were midnight to noon and my job consisted of working on assembly lines which often included running large trays of cardboard products into 400-degree ovens. 

It was an awful job, but I learned to keep focus on the big picture which at that time was to graduate from college. I even went back the following summer.

What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?

Taking risks is an important aspect of being an entrepreneur. If you are not willing to accept failure, then being an entrepreneur is not for you. There will inevitably be failures but with hard work, the successes will outweigh them. 

There have been multiple products and marketing campaigns I worked on that failed. However, I never let these setbacks bring me down. I view them as chapters with varying success, all of which contribute to the foundation of the business I have today.

Finding out what works and what doesn’t all helps to build wisdom and a better business. Henry Ford famously said, “Failure is simply the opportunity to begin again, this time more intelligently.”

How do you handle difficult clients, customers, and coworkers?

Running a business in the medical field requires a special set of skills and understanding.

From a client standpoint, working with physicians and surgeons can be extremely difficult.  I have found that, in general, they expect more from vendors than from other professions. This can be very frustrating, especially when you and your team are giving it your all. It has always been important to stay positive and understand how much pressure physicians are under. The care that you provide for their patients needs to be perfect. 

When dealing with difficult patients, it’s crucial to train my staff and manage expectations appropriately. The patients that we encounter are trying to manage chronic pain. Chronic pain takes a toll on the body and the mind, so to be successful you need to carry true compassion and understand what your patients are going through.  

As for difficult employees, I learned the hard way to deal with them swiftly. Negativity weighs heavily on a team and is contagious. I always hire with a 90 probation period in which employees are closely monitored. Typically, I have been able to assess and ween out the difficult employees in that period. In the long term, it’s important to have policies and procedures in place to deal with difficult employees. It’s critical to document everything and nip the situation in the bud early.

How do you manage the stress of all the things you are not able to complete? 

First I like to determine what I can control and what I can’t. Eliminating stress about things you can’t control will have an immediate impact.

Also knowing and reminding yourself that stressing about things in the future only diminishes your ability to be productive and happy in the present.

Implementing a stress management plan is also something that really helps.  Know what activities help you reduce stress and most importantly the people that help you relieve stress.  Activities that I find best are quality time with family, walking our dogs, and exercise.

What advice would you give your younger self? 

Take a close look at relationships. Invest in your friendships and cut the cord on relationships that are negative or not working. 

Also, don’t get stuck in a location that you don’t love. The world has so many opportunities, find the place that is right for you.

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