By Jan Quigley
Twenty seven years ago, I took a chance and ended up founding JQ Medical, with a mission to help people with diabetes get the supplies they need. At the time, I was the mother of two small children, with a lot on my plate – including diabetes. I was diagnosed at age nine.
When I started my career in sales for a diabetes supply company I never thought that would lead me to build my own company. Despite my stressful, busy life, I kept my diabetes under control without using an insulin pump – and had no interest in using one. Back then, doctors often prescribed insulin pumps as a last-ditch effort for very sick patients, furthering the stigma that surrounds the disease. I was a healthy, busy mom with a career in sales. I didn’t know how I would feel about something being attached to me 24/7 and advertising that I had diabetes. I was very active and didn’t want anything that would interfere with that. I met someone through my work who encouraged me to try a pump. I did, and that one act led to so many others, that led me to where I am today.
Once I tried the pump, I knew that it would help me and so many others manage their diabetes better. It actually gave me more freedom. However, I quickly learned that there was a big gap between getting an insulin pump and understanding how to use one. I used my personal experience to help train patients, doctors and nurses on pump therapy. My goal was to educate people with preconceived notions like I had about insulin pumps – to help them understand they could be used as a preventative measure against complications, rather than as a tool to use when the disease is out of control and complications have already started.
As I kept getting referrals to more and more people, I realized how much of a need there was, and believed that there could be a business here. I left my sales job, which was a little scary to be honest, and started JQ Medical out of a room in my house. I landed a few contracts with insurance companies. Customers would come to my house for training. They trusted me; they knew as someone with diabetes I understood what they were going through. Parents of children with diabetes were hopeful – seeing that I had become a mother and had a successful career. It made them think their kids would be okay. It’s devastating for parents when their kids are diagnosed. I think it was comforting for them to see that it’s not going to be so bad.
A year later, I was divorced and that inspired me to work even harder to make JQ Medical a success. I wanted my kids to have everything they deserved. I never thought the company would turn into what it is now. I just wanted to help educate people about managing their diabetes and sell a few insulin pumps along the way as a way to provide for my family and give an excellent experience to people with diabetes. I cared about the people I worked with and felt a bond through our diabetes. I’m glad I took that chance; I never would have dreamed it would have taken me here. I am proud of the people that have helped me grow JQ Medical with the attention they continue to provide the customers. If you have a passion, you can do anything.