Founder, On-Belay Medical
On-Belay Medical had its unofficial beginning on a football field in September 2011 when Luke, the 11 year old son of our Founder and CEO, Mark Slaughter, said just 4 words, “Dad, feel my chest.” The world stopped spinning…
An ER doctor stood a few yards away and Luke arrived at the nearest hospital within a few minutes. Soon, in an effort to restore normal rhythm, Luke’s heart was stopped for 8 seconds. It was a long 8 seconds… and it worked. A few days later a procedure followed at Vanderbilt Children’s Hospital to find the extra node, or “computer chip”, in his heart that was causing the problem and destroy it.
The days spent there with a child, and surrounded by families of sick and diseased children, was exhausting. Mark left with a healthy son and a decision to do something new with his life, something with a purpose. His career in medical device industry had just lost it’s luster. He says no one has ever tried harder to exit an industry…only to get pushed deeper within.
He saw a huge opportunity. There is more profit created daily in medical device sales than few people could give in a lifetime. If you built a company designed to convert those profits into philanthropy you could make a real difference. Mark was standing exactly where he needed to be, and an idea that would become On-Belay Medical was born.
On-Belay is a rock climbing term and was chosen as it means, “one secured by another”. There wasn’t an existing business model to follow, no proof of concept, and had goals nearly opposite of the rest of the industry. The first few years were especially tough. There was no proof to point to, no data, and almost no one believed. Most just looked for the “scheme” as was usual in our industry. But, a relentless pursuit was about to pay off.
In the fall of 2014 On-Belay decided to donate a significant portion of its ownership to the NCF (see “Our Unique Business Model”) that accomplished two very important things: 1) It is the most powerful mechanism available to convert company profits into philanthropy. 2) More importantly, On-Belay’s intent was now unarguable.
Today financial support reaches homeless, food banks, local medical ministries, disease research, international orphanages and adoption support, and nutrition, clean water, medical care and education to children around the world, etc…
Surgeons often tell us they get more satisfaction by working with On-Belay than expected, and they are telling their colleagues. We are blessed with a growing team of some of the industry’s best, attracted to a company that sees the industry as more than just a place to go to work for self gain. Grateful.
Our next big step comes in July of 2017. We embark on a medical mission trip to a third world country with five talented surgeons. (pediatric ortho, ortho, trauma, and neurosurgery) Our staff is excited, but the surgeons are probably more excited. On-Belay will continue to grow, we are only getting started, and we will be going back.