'Young' innovation company expands in Trumbull

The ZetrOz Inc. office at Quarry Road in Trumbull isn’t a typical corporate setting, in more ways than one.

If you don’t immediately notice that there is a distinct lack of gray hair among employees, a Ping-Pong table in the break room may seem like a strange touch. However, the Ping-Pong table’s usefulness in improving productivity is based on scientific research, much like everything else at the ZetrOz office.

“We have a unique culture for a medical device company,” said George K. Lewis Jr., the company co-founder, inventor and chief scientific officer.

Lewis is 29, with a Ph.D from Cornell University. His studies were focused in biomedical-chemical engineering. Many of his employees have yet to reach their 30th birthday but have impressive backgrounds and are quickly helping the company make cutting-edge ultrasound therapy devices.

The company has invented sam, the first four-hour wearable ultrasound pain therapy system, cleared by the FDA and clinically proven.

“It’s the smallest ultrasound device in the world,” Lewis said.

Around 2008, Lewis was working in his home laboratory in Ithaca, N.Y. His girlfriend, now his wife, had just had ankle surgery and he was tinkering in his laboratory.

“I yelled down to her that I had just invented the world’s smallest ultrasound device,” Lewis said.

Serving as his first guinea pig, his girlfriend suggested he try it on her ankle. After a while, her inflammation went down, her ankle felt better and a lightbulb went off in the young entrepreneur’s head.

In time and with help of other brilliant young minds, the sam was perfected. It powers off a battery not unlike a cell phone battery. It’s wearable and ergonomic.

The device is used to treat those chronic painful conditions that require constant therapy.

“No other ultrasound device in the world is approved for longer than 30-minute treatment sessions,” Lewis said.

Before receiving FDA approval, ZetrOz launched a similar device for horses, called the UltrOZ. The device, launched in 2011, is used for equestrian rehabilitation.

UltrOZ became popular in the equestrian world, eventually being used overseas by top Olympic show jumpers, including the U.S.A. Olympic team.

Making Trumbull home

ZetrOZ started in a small office in Ithaca. The small staff worked in a converted funeral home during the launch of UltrOZ.

“We were looking to find a more central location between New York City and Boston,” Lewis said.

Connecticut Innovations provided a direct investment of $1.5 million and assembled an investor group to meet the company’s capital needs and help it find the new office. ZetrOZ also participated in the Connecticut Angel Investor Tax Credit Program which provided strategic assistance to help the company expand.

Trumbull became an ideal location where the company could have access to clinical and manufacturing partners, with room to grow. The company has already started to expand within the Quarry Road offices. There are 24 employees now.

The company is also committed to a “made in America” philosophy. While the devices are made right in the Quarry Road headquarters, as production demand increases, the company will be hiring Connecticut companies to do volume manufacturing.

Lewis and his wife, Sabrina, the manager of quality assurance and regulatory affairs for the company, also purchased a home in Trumbull.

“We were driving through a neighborhood and everyone outside was waving to us,” Lewis said. “We thought, ‘This is the place.’”

While sam is out on the market, ZetrOZ is already looking to the future. New innovations are moving forward, including a wireless version of sam.

“When I first started, my dad warned me that ultrasound was a mature field and he wasn’t sure I should get into it,” Lewis said. “I think he changed his mind.”

To learn more about the company, visit zetroz.com.