Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

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]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Bucs have chance to beat Vikings in their third stadium


    Here's a cool sign that the Bucs are getting up there as an NFL franchise: If Tampa Bay can win Sunday at U.S. Bank Stadium, it will mark the first time the Bucs have posted road wins against the same NFL opponent in three different stadiums.

    TIMES ARCHIVES (2012) | Bucs RB Doug Martin runs during Tampa Bay's 36-17 win at the Vikings in 2012, in what was then called Mall of America Field. If Tampa Bay wins Sunday, it will mark the first time they have road wins against the same NFL opponent in three different stadiums.
  2. Memorial for Snooty the manatee, postponed because of Irma, to be held Sunday


    A public memorial to celebrate the life of 69-year-old Snooty the manatee will be held at the South Florida Museum on Sunday from noon to 5 p.m.

    Snooty , the world's most celebrated manatee, begs for another slice of apple in his pool in the Parker Manatee Aquarium at the South Florida Museum in Bradenton in 2008. Snooty was 60 then. [Times 2008]
  3. Residents wade through a flooded road after the passing of Hurricane Maria, in Toa Baja, Puerto Rico, Friday, September 22, 2017. Because of the heavy rains brought by Maria, thousands of people were evacuated from Toa Baja after the municipal government opened the gates of the Rio La Plata Dam. [Associated Press]
  4. NFL commissioner, players' union angrily denounce Trump comments on national anthem


    SOMERSET, N.J. — The National Football League and its players' union on Saturday angrily denounced President Donald Trump for suggesting that owners fire players who kneel during the national …

    President Donald Trump walks off the stage after he speaks at campaign rally in support of Sen. Luther Strange, Friday, Sept. 22, 2017, in Huntsville, Ala. [Associated Press]
  5. New earthquake, magnitude 6.1, shakes jittery Mexico


    MEXICO CITY — A strong new earthquake shook Mexico on Saturday, causing new alarm in a country reeling from two still-more-powerful quakes this month that have killed nearly 400 people.

    Locals play pool at a venue in Mexico City's La Condesa neighborhood, Friday, Sept. 22, 2017, four days after the 7.1 earthquake. The upscale Mexico City neighborhood was one of the hardest hit, with more than a half-dozen collapsed buildings in the immediate vicinity. The few Condesa residents who ventured out Friday night said they were anxious for relief from an anguishing week. [Associated Press]