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First-aid maker in Sarasota has plenty of seniors at the helm

Philip Larsen was coming home from bowling the other day when the elevator door at his condo smacked him in the arm. Blood began to flow from three different deep scrapes. "I take baby aspirins and I was bleeding like crazy," he recalled.

The Bradenton senior had a good Samaritan neighbor who offered up a package of WoundSeal Powder, a first-aid remedy sold over the counter at neighborhood pharmacies.

Larsen, 74, poured the powder over the bleeding wounds and, he said, "It sealed up right away."

Coincidentally, the Sarasota scientist who invented this product, the late Dr. James Patterson, was 74 himself when he discovered the powder's power.

And now, the maker of this product, BioLife in Sarasota, prides itself in having its targeted demographic playing such a large role in its production.

The company owner is 84; the chair of the board of directors is 80. Two out of the six board members are over 60.

Sam Shake, BioLife's CEO, who is 64, said he is having too much fun to retire.

He helped rebrand the product and expand the company's outreach. Now, there's often a BioLife booth at senior health expos and mobile home park info events.

The company's three products are designed to stop the kind of bleeding injuries that happen to senior citizens with increasing frequency as skin thins.

The WoundSeal Powder is applied directly and immediately to the bleeding, no washing or disinfecting ahead of time required. The powder soon forms a dry, hard scab, and the wound is allowed to heal.

Inside the entrance of BioLife's Bradenton headquarters is a "Why Wall" — a wall filled with testimonials from people like Larsen who send in their thank-you messages and anecdotes about how the product has made a difference in their lives.

Shake, who honed his corporate skills with Pillsbury, is an enthusiastic consumer of his product. He has packages of WoundSeal Powder in his garage, his kitchen and his bathroom medicine cabinet. When he recently was speared by a falling palm frond that created a V-shaped wound on his cheek, he applied WoundSeal and then went to the local ER to see if he needed stitches.

"The doctor took one look and said, 'I'm not touching that. It's all sealed up.' "

Roger Thomas, the company's director of business development, knows about living in Florida as a senior citizen and the challenges that sometimes can mean for older bodies. "I know my skin has gotten more brittle, the fat layers under my skin have gotten thinner, so it's easier to get a laceration, a cut or a puncture," Thomas, 77, said.

Working in a Florida back yard can be hazardous, too, he noted. "In Florida, bougainvillea bushes are vicious. As you get older, it's easier to puncture your skin and you bleed longer," he observed.

"Just knowing I've got this stuff in my pocket," he said, "makes me feel better."

Fred W. Wright Jr. is a freelance writer living in Seminole. You can reach him at

First-aid maker in Sarasota has plenty of seniors at the helm 01/22/13 [Last modified: Monday, January 21, 2013 5:38pm]
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