Improving Quality Of Life

Paul and Nancy Gammie Co-owners, Gammie HomeCare

Please tell us about your business. Gammie HomeCare originally opened in 1986 on Maui by my wife Nancy and me.

We offer a wide range of home medical equipment and nursing supplies. We have a wide variety of ambulatory aids, bath-safety devices, oxygen and other respiratory-related equipment; sleep apnea products, adjustable beds and bed accessories, lift chairs, a wide variety of orthotic braces (and we insist on fitting them on you to be sure they fit correctly and will actually work), specialty pillows and wedges; incontinent products, nursing scrubs, stethoscopes and other nursing-related tools, as well as many other items.

Why did you start this business? In the early 1980s, I recognized the aging of the population demographics and found no one was addressing the current needs of this group of people, who would have more needs in the future as the elder population continued to grow. We opened our store on Kauai in 1999, as we felt room for competition existed.

Who benefits from your services? Although the majority of our clients are senior citizens, by no means are they our only clients.

Our products are used by people of all ages who need the tools we provide to assist and maintain their independence and self-mobility. Some of our clients are people recovering from a recent surgery or accident, where they need our product only for a short time, and others are in a more long-term-need situation, and they use our products to improve their lifestyle and general quality of life.

What is your background/education in this industry? I am a local Maui boy with a degree in business finance from Colorado State University, and Nancy is a registered nurse with a degree from San Jose State University. Between my wife and I, we have more than 55 years of experience in the field of home medical equipment. The majority of our employees have been with us for well over 10 years, and some more than 20.

What is the most rewarding aspect of your business? No question: Helping others in need is our greatest reward. When we can directly help a person (get a quadriplegic a power wheelchair with appropriate accessories so he/she can function in society) or indirectly (provide the tools to a person with sleep apnea and educate them on their challenges so they can end up helping themselves), the result is the same. What we do is make a difference in the life of another, and what we do matters.

How many employees do you have on Kauai? We have five Kauai employees. They are, literally, your neighbors. From Kapaa to Kekaha, they come from various communities around the island. When hiring, I try to find employees who are from Kauai and want to remain on Kauai — those who have a bond with their communities and understand the cultures of the people they will be working for/with. Not all of our customers are always feeling their best, and can be involved in challenging and difficult situations, so I want employees who desire to help their fellow Kauaians and will support them through good times and bad. We need employees we can count on, as the community counts on us. I feel fortunate we have such a staff.

Do you have a business motto or philosophy? Our business motto is: “We service and repair everything we sell.” This is often unusual in today’s “disposable” world. Many sources to buy things exist in the world today — the Internet is probably our biggest competitor — but too often businesses don’t stand behind their products. We do, and always will. If we make a mistake, we’ll admit it and accept responsibility. Another motto is: “We do business the old fashioned way — one customer at a time.” Every person who walks in our door gets individual attention and consultation.

If you weren’t doing this, what would you be doing? I love to surf. I grew up surfing around Maui and still enjoy it whenever I can. (I even get to the beach occasionally on Kauai.) I’d love to have been a surfboard shaper, but it’s probably for the best I ended up doing what I do now. I’m a terrible artist, so would probably have been a terrible shaper and promptly fired. Sometimes life just leads you to where you need to be.

Open Monday through Friday, 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m., and on call for clients

3206 Akahi St., Lihue