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Young Entrepreneur Featured

8:38am EDT April 30, 2002
Soft-spoken Brian Svetz has a big heart and sees people, not dollar signs, when patients come to him for a new limb or brace.

This caring philosophy contributed to his earning the 2002 SBA Regional Young Entrepreneur award.

"I put patients first. As long as you take care of the patient, the money will come," Svetz says, adding that most companies in his line of work see the money first.

His grandfather, who lost his leg in World War II, was instrumental in influencing this generous business philosophy. He was fitted with a prosthesis but wasn't satisfied, so he learned how to make his own, and a business was born.

Svetz purchased the company, now called Svetz Orthotics & Prothetics Inc., from a former employee who had purchased it from his family.

"I've been in the business all my life, and my success has a lot to do with my family's background. In this area, you can't find anything bad said about our family," Svetz says.

The most challenging aspects of the prosthetics business are becoming a provider with the major health plans and competing with the few specialized companies in this field. But competition doesn't scare Svetz; it inspires him to continue growing.

"I'm broadening the horizons of the business. I want to go to Pittsburgh and other areas of Western Pennsylvania and open branch offices," Svetz says.

On tap for 2002 are offices in Johnstown, Butler and DuBois, and possibly the South Hills.

Amanda Lynch