MBA grad turns Capstone project into health care product company

The road to Rob Chase’s role as founder and president of NewGen Surgical traveled through Dominican in more ways than one.

Rob grew up near the University and routinely would take after-dinner walks with his mother through campus. He eventually stayed on campus, first to earn his MBA in Strategic Management in 2000 and later his Certificate in Sustainability in 2011.

Those degrees combined helped him create a Capstone project at Dominican that he has launched into his own innovative start-up company that develops and manufactures sustainably designed, single-use medical devices and surgical products. Its mission is to reduce plastic waste in hospital operating rooms by redesigning disposable products.

Rob credits his Dominican experience for inspiring him to think critically about the health care industry.

The son of a surgeon, Rob’s professional career began by selling surgical products after he graduated from the University of Pacific with a BA in Psychology with an emphasis on Business. He then sought to pursue his master’s degree at Dominican in the Barowsky School of Business because of its location, reputation, and flexible class schedule.

“My work experience was geared around sales so the program exposed me to financial management, accounting, and more in-depth marketing,” Rob says. “The program broadened my perspective and understanding of the different areas of business and what to focus on.”

Eleven years later, Rob’s passion for sustainability brought him back to Dominican.

“What the certificate program did was to enlighten me, to not only the environmental challenges we face in our community and society around climate change and pollution, but also what other companies, industries and thought leaders are doing to transform their business with a deep dive into the principles around sustainability,” Rob says.

To Rob it meant taking a leap of faith. His Capstone project was built around a goal to dramatically reduce the 12,000-16,000 tons of waste coming out of hospitals daily, 30 percent of it from operating rooms with many single-use disposable plastic items.

The challenge was to design, create, and produce more sustainable medical devices – not manufactured by larger companies – that could serve the same clinical purpose at a competitive price.

“I was at an inflection point in my life and career,” Rob says. “I had 20 years of experience working in the medical device field and now I had gained all this new-found knowledge of sustainable principles going back to school at Dominican. NewGen Surgical is a culmination of experience, education, understanding and insight, and the desire to help put the health care Industry on a more sustainable path.”

NewGen Surgical is committed to helping positively change the health care industry’s environmental footprint designed to reduce the impact on natural resources and plastic waste. Rob and his team have produced patented single-use plant-based surgical skin staplers and needle counters. Rob says in designing the needle counter, we eliminated 95 percent by weight of the plastic box associated with this product compared to other manufacturers.

The ongoing pursuit to introduce new materials that decrease plastic waste yet meet performance criteria has not been an easy one. But NewGen Surgical aims to pioneer this new path of sustainable medical products to create new value in an established market for customers engaged in human health.