Small business: Entrepreneurs - Warwick Lightbourne

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Clinical Technology expands in Australia after manufacturing and distribution deal with ASX-listed Mayne Pharma.

Warwick Lightbourne's Clinical Technology sells 42 Thermastrap and Elastastrap support products and three creams. Photo / Sarah Ivey
Warwick Lightbourne's Clinical Technology sells 42 Thermastrap and Elastastrap support products and three creams. Photo / Sarah Ivey

For naturopath and businessman Warwick Lightbourne and his son Tim, the apple hasn't fallen far from the tree.

Tim, a marketer, is the co-founder of Invivo Wines who talked Graham Norton into serving the wine on his BBC TV chat show each week.

Warwick, a former marathon runner, has been the owner of the Cornwall Injury Clinic since 1982, which has treated All Blacks and Warriors rugby and league players for playing injuries and arthritis.

He was a member of the Kenyan Olympic team to Barcelona in 1992 as a trainer and injury consultant and has worked at sports institutes in Sweden and Italy.

At 65, Warwick is watching a side business, Clinical Technology (NZ), go through a growth spurt, thanks in part to Tim's urging that he keep innovating. Warwick started the business in 1999 to develop health and sports medicine products for patients seeking treatment for a wide range of musculoskeletal conditions.

"We used to put it in Marmite jars and mix it up once a fortnight. If we were out of stock, people would get annoyed," says Lightbourne senior, who runs the firm with wife Kathy.

The Percutane cream went commercial in 2000. Tim suggested his father get endorsements from regular clients such as All Black Michael Jones and, for the past 10 years, Kenyan runner Douglas Wakiihuri has been Clinical Technology's global ambassador.

Tim, a paid consultant to the business, also got his father to employ commission-only sales reps to introduce the creams into pharmacies.

At the same time Warwick was developing a support range for hips, shoulders, thighs, ankles, knees, wrists and backs. Their company sells 42 Thermastrap and Elastastrap support products and three creams.

The injury clinic is still operating but has cut back from the three physiotherapists who used to work there. "We see people with deep, difficult problems, people who have been coming to us for years," says Warwick.

The Cornwall clinic is essential for the development of new products, but Clinical Technology is eclipsing the clinic's income.

The products have been made and distributed in New Zealand by Douglas Pharmaceuticals since 2002.

"The good thing about our deal with Douglas is it enabled us to focus on developing more products and the export market," Warwick says.

Meanwhile, a licensing deal with ASX-listed Mayne Pharma late last year to distribute and manufacture the Percutane creams throughout Australia really put a rocket under Clinical Technology.

"The creams have gone well. Within three months they have been distributed in all the pharmacies in Australia."

The Australian company is looking at the supports range next.

Warwick is hopeful Mayne Pharma will take his products to the US and Europe and is forecasting $2.5 million turnover for Clinical Technology by the end of next year. The company already has distributors in Singapore, Scandinavia and Britain.

Friends ask Warwick and Kathy why they are still working.

"We enjoy what we do. We get a lot of satisfaction from developing products that sell all around the world," Warwick says.

As for an exit route, a joint venture is possible. "I might say, 'I will sell you a share and help you grow the business'," he says.

Top tip
Working after retirement age, you have to enjoy what you are doing and stay focused.

Best business achievement
Being approached first by Douglas Pharmaceuticals, then Mayne
Pharma.

- NZ Herald

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