From Jab We Met to Surging Ahead

This Indian-origin entrepreneur couple definitely created magic 'Jab they met' and the Medsurge they started a little more than a decade ago, employs 40 people in Australia and over 300 people in Bangalore today.

In the year 2002, an Indian migrant couple, Kam and Reet Phulwani landed in Melbourne. Today, the Phulwanis are the owners of one of the fastest-growing family-owned pharmaceutical companies Down Under. They join the ranks of the many members of the Indian Diaspora who have found success, despite battling several odds, in foreign countries. 

Photo Courtesy: Medsurge
Photo Courtesy: Medsurge

The Phulwanis established their company Medsurge Healthcare in Australia in 2007 and in New Zealand in 2011, with  Medicianz Healthcare being the latest addition to their business.  The couple share more about their journey @work with Connected to India

Life Saving Medicine Supply

Based out of Melbourne, Australia, the entrepreneurial couple source and supply a comprehensive range of pharmaceutical products and specialised life-saving medicines to healthcare professionals at hospitals as well as at retail pharmacies.

“Our current product range provides upwards of 700 refrigerated and non-refrigerated medicines to around 1000 hospital pharmacies and 6500 retail pharmacies”, Reet told Connected to India. 

Medsurge Healthcare recently purchased its own pharmaceutical manufacturing plant on the outskirts of Bangalore, India - a facility spread across a 5-acre plot with a 5,000 sq ft injectable R&D unit, with an integrated ampoule and glass vial line.

Kam is the founder and Reet, the director of the Australian company as well as the Indian manufacturing plant. 

The beginning of the sojourn Down Under 

Kam and Reet came to Melbourne in 2002, him with an undergraduate degree in pharmacy and her in IT. The ambitious couple was looking for new opportunities and Reet was keen on pursuing a Masters. 

Though the decision to leave India was not taken lightly, “as it meant that we would leave our family and friends”, there has been no looking back say Reet and Kam of Medsurge Healthcare. Photo Courtesy: Reet
Though the decision to leave India was not taken lightly, “as it meant that we would leave our family and friends”, there has been no looking back say Reet and Kam of Medsurge Healthcare. Photo Courtesy: Reet

“There were a number of reasons that my wife Reet and I chose to come to Australia”, said Kam, “The prime reason being that Monash University was the first to offer Reet a place in its Masters of IT program”. 

Though the decision to leave India was not taken lightly, “as it meant that we would leave our family and friends”, there has been no looking back. 

“It was the first time either of us had ever been outside India. Looking back, all we had was two small suitcases, $1000 in cash, which I had raised by selling my business, and a lot of hopes and dreams. Reet was 21 and I was 24”, reminisced Kam.

There were many hardships, the greatest of which was financial with Kam working to support both as well as to pay Reet’s tuition fees whilst she studied full time.

“To meet our commitments, I worked from 6 am to midnight seven days a week for the first two years”, says Kam, who worked more than four odd jobs during that period.

The last job being the one that provided Kam “with crucial knowledge and the pathway that led me to where I am today”.

Among other hardships they dealt with were those faced by most diaspora in a foreign land - the lack of family support or fall-back plans. 

The couple however did not have any dependents, parents or children, to support and could focus totally on themselves and Reet soon graduated with excellent results.  

Incorporating Medsurge Healthcare

By 2007 ‘Medsurge Healthcare’ was incorporated and post two years of business development, the company started trading in 2009.

The couple found their niche in the supply of life-saving pharmaceuticals that were not available to Australian hospitals and retail pharmacies. Photo Courtesy: Medsurge
The couple found their niche in the supply of life-saving pharmaceuticals that were not available to Australian hospitals and retail pharmacies. Photo Courtesy: Medsurge

The couple found their niche in the supply of life-saving pharmaceuticals that were not available to Australian hospitals and retail pharmacies. 

“To the best of my knowledge, we were the first in Australia to do this”, said Kam. Before the advent of Medsurge, hospital pharmacies endeavoured to import these medicines themselves, which usually took many weeks before delivery, he added. Medsurge has made delivery of orders into customers’ hands in 48-96 hours, a routine occurrence. “With stock guaranteed delivery for niche pharmaceuticals by 10 am the next day anywhere in Australia – or faster if needed”, said Kam. 

 ‘WE VALUE LIFE’ - their trademark motto

As new business owners, the Phulwanis’ main challenges were the lack of start-up capital and resources; meeting compliance and regulation requirements; sourcing reliable suppliers and third party warehousing. 

“Working together, Reet and I dealt with all these challenges slowly, establishing the business and fulfilling what has become our Company motto ‘We Value Life’,” Kam told Connected to India. 

The company recently started its own brand under the name “Medicianz Healthcare Australia” and opened branches in New Zealand, Singapore, United Kingdom, United Arab Emirates and India with plans for further international expansion.

“Medsurge is committed to making a positive impact on the world which our future generations will inherit. We are passionate about working with partners who, like us, believe that operational sustainability and improving the quality of life for all is at the heart of everything we do”, said Reet.

Photo Courtesy: Medsurge
Photo Courtesy: Medsurge

Medsurge has picked up many accolades along the way including Kam being a finalist in the 2017 Business Leader of the Year award at the India Australia Business & Community Awards and the company being named one of Westpac’s ‘Top 200 Businesses of Tomorrow’ in 2019.

Future Vision

“Our future vision is to make Medsurge Healthcare a globally recognised and respected Australian pharmaceutical Company”, said Kam. “Financially becoming one of the top 10 pharmaceutical companies in the world.”

The couple aims to continue to strive towards saving and preserving the lives of fellow Australians and adapting to evolving needs, whilst contributing to the overall health and wellness of the world.

“I inherited a philanthropic approach to healthcare from my father who was a GP in India”, said Kam. 

“I have a passionate and unshakeable belief that this is what I was born to do and that I can and do make a difference in this country of ours for the better”, he added.

The couple finds it deeply satisfying that through their company they have the ability to provide the lifesaving medications needed for survival and celebrate the lives thus saved. 

“My wife and I arrived in Australia with nothing, we are intensely grateful that our adopted country has rewarded our hard work in fulfilling our ambitions beyond our earliest dreams and aspirations,” said Kam. 

Author
Lakshmy Iyer
Lakshmy Iyer – Senior Correspondent, ASEAN & Entertainment

Lakshmy has been contributing regularly as a freelance writer since 2012. Her writing has been an amalgamation of the language, literature and rich cultural experiences of India as well as South East Asia. An Instructional Designer by profession she is passionate about lifelong learning. Art is her medium of reflection. She participates in art exhibitions thus contributing to the local art scene and using this platform, supports social causes in Singapore as well.

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