Omar Shiblaq on opening a business in Dearborn

Identifying a need and addressing it. That’s the story of many a successful entrepreneur, and no matter the industry.

It’s certainly the case with the Shiblaq brothers. Omar and Adam Shiblaq founded the Redwood Medical Equipment company in 2018, largely in part because of the frustration they faced in dealing with other medical equipment stores. The Shiblaqs’ mother spent weeks waiting for a sleep apnea machine, Omar says, and the brothers simply felt that they could do a better job.

So they did.

We talked with Redwood Medical Equipment co-owner and co-founder Omar Shiblaq about this family-owned medical supplies company, the brothers’ path to getting there, and, in particular, why they felt Dearborn was the perfect location to base their business.

Also, don’t mess with their mother.

Q: What made opening in Dearborn the right decision for you and Redwood?

A: We opened in Dearborn and we made that decision for a couple of reasons. It’s an area that we saw needed a medical equipment store. There are also a lot of Arabic speakers on our team, so we can bring that to the table. There are a lot of patients that only speak Arabic, so we can really help that community.

I love Dearborn. It’s one of the places that I missed the most when I lived in San Francisco. It’s so true what they say. You don’t know what you have until it’s gone. I love the community here so much.

Q: What motivated you to open a medical equipment and supplies store?

A: We got into the medical supplies space because our mother was diagnosed with sleep apnea. We went through the process with her and there was a lot of going back and forth with the medical supplies company we were dealing with. It took three to four weeks just to get the sleep apnea machine. Being her sons, we were obviously very concerned.

We saw an opportunity to do a better job.

At the end of the day, this is about making sure patients get what they need when they need it.

Q: What are your business backgrounds?

A: We all have some experience in the medical industry but we’re new to the medical supplies field. We’ve both worked in doctor’s offices before.

Before this, I was living in San Francisco. I worked at Tesla and Apple. And Twitch TV. My brother Adam was working in the automotive world here in the area.

So it’s definitely been a transition. There’s been a lot of learning to do but things are going smoothly. And we love it because at the end of the day we’re helping people out.

Q: How’s life as an entrepreneur?

A: We’re first-time entrepreneurs. I tried starting a few apps in California, Adam had a website he was working on, but this is our baby.

It’s a lot different owning a business. There’s a lot that you overlook when you’re just an employee. There’s a bit of a learning curve but nothing we can’t handle. My friend is the founder of MySwimPro, so I can always ask him a question. A lot of our friends are entrepreneurs that we can go to for advice. And I can’t even count how many classes and webinars we’ve taken.

Q: How would you describe the business?

A: Redwood Medical Equipment is a full-scale medical equipment company. We specialize in sleep apnea equipment, that’s the biggest area of issue in our industry. But we also specialize in orthotics, wrist and knee braces, compression products, mobility equipment, shower assists, diabetic shoes--you name it.

Q: What does the future hold for Redwood Medical Equipment?

A: We want to help as many people as possible. We want to open more stores and help patients as much as possible. At the end of the day it’s not about money but making sure that patients get what they need and when they need it.

With the medical industry, there is something about the feeling of helping people out. It’s a satisfying feeling. It’s been the biggest thing for me. I didn’t realize how good that would feel. That’s what we’re here for.

Redwood Medical Equipment is located at 14716 W. Warren Ave., Ste. 100, in Dearborn.

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