By Russell Vannozzi
For College Grove resident Jon Stolzer, the entrepreneurial spirit has always been in his blood.
Following several semesters of college coursework at the University of Kansas, Stolzer decided it was time for a change. He opted to attend a K-9 training school and started his first company at age 21. The endeavor, dubbed Canine Inc., was founded in 2007 and specialized in training police dogs.
However, a conversation with a stranger on a flight from Dallas to Nashville opened Stolzer’s eyes to the medical device industry. He gave it a try and dabbled as a sales manager for a few years.
That eventually led Stolzer, 32, to founding two laboratory services companies, which earned him a spot on the Top 100 Magazine “Top 40 Under 40” list this month.
“Any time you’re recognized for your work, it certainly feels like you’re doing something right,” Stolzer said. “I’m honored to be on that list.”
Stolzer’s first breakthrough followed his brief stint in medical device sales, an experience he found to be “intellectually stimulating” but ultimately left him disappointed after he saw many patients turned away by insurance companies.
“I did not feel like I was making a difference,” Stolzer said. “Eventually, I got the wind taken out of my sails. That’s when someone said, ‘If you really want to make a difference, you should consider the laboratory side of this field.’”
The serial entrepreneur began Stolzer Medical in 2015, focusing on providing private health clinics with an alternative laboratory services option. Some clinics simply require medical supplies and testing materials, while others opt for in-depth consulting from Stolzer and his team.
“We don’t push an agenda for a specific lab, but rather, we advocate on behalf of the clinic and their patients,” he said. “We also only partner with labs that complete our strict screening process.”
Stolzer makes himself personally available to doctors and patients that have questions about testing, often fielding phone calls and sometimes even visiting them in person. His company also helps patients access devices and testing that they otherwise might not be able to afford.
“Our goal is to take care of these folks in the long term,” he said.
Following the success of his first medical company, Stolzer co-founded Patriot Medical Science with business partner and ex-Special Forces operator Derek Goeriz. Patriot Medical focuses on supporting the health and nutrition of veterans and others exposed to physical trauma at their jobs.
The company is currently working with a lab to put the finishing touches on a genetic susceptibility test for Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy, or CTE, the highly-publicized disease that has been found in numerous former athletes and military veterans.
“As soon as it goes to market, we will be able to tell somebody how genetically susceptible they are to CTE,” Stolzer said. “Our goal is to put that in front of the military, football players and anyone in high-impact situations to help them answer questions like ‘should I continue to play football?’ or ‘is this specific branch of the military OK for me?’”
Stozler resides on a five-acre property on the edge of College Grove, calling the purchase of the home “one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.” The property also houses a small office for his companies, even though Stolzer and his employees spend most of their time on the road visiting clinics and labs.
“It’s such a peaceful and wonderful place and it feels like home to me,” he said of Williamson County. “I like the energy and the friendly people (in Middle Tennessee), along with the buzzing economy.”
Although it’s no longer his profession, Stolzer still uses his free time to take care of animals. Stolzer Medical recently made a sizable donation to the Lebanon-based Animal Rescue Corps to provide custom kennels for animals rescued from cruelty situations.
After starting three different companies in just over a decade, Stolzer doesn’t have plans of slowing down as his 33rd birthday approaches. He said Patriot Medical is close to market with its new CTE technology, and he plans to increase Stolzer Medical’s staff to 30 employees to help meet the growing demand for their services.
“We’ve taken on quite a few new hires, which has been exciting,” he said. “If we stay passionate about what we’re doing and operate with character and integrity, we’ll be able to maintain our momentum.”