Growing up in Brunswick Acres, Marc Rubenstein was able to achieve an unusual milestone by forging a business partnership while still a toddler.
Rubenstein first met his eventual business partner Geoffrey Hunt while the pair were still in nursery school. While starting a business together was never quite on the agenda as the two friends advanced through the South Brunswick School District, Rubenstein and Hunt would end up pursuing the same field of physical therapy while attending Rutgers University, a field that would eventually lead them back home.
"We were both in the program when we went to Rutgers, but I don't think we talked right away about going into business together," Rubenstein said. "We were both working in different facilities when we identified a need here in South Brunswick for a physical therapy center."
Along with their wives, who are also physical therapists, Rubenstein and Hunt launched Jersey Physical Therapy on Route 27 in Kendall Park, before opening up another office on Tices Lane in East Brunswick four years later.
"We've become, through working together, like a large family and we try to bring that into our businesses," Rubenstein said. "Our families are really close, our kids are really close, and we bring that into the office to treat our customers like a family member. We're a physical therapist-owned small business, not just a high volume corporate entity. We're involved in everything, in all phases."
The duo decided to center their operations in South Brunswick not only because of their ties to the area, but also because their location is situated between major medical centers in Princeton and New Brunswick.
"We knew a lot of people growing up here and felt that it could help our business, that combined with the need for a good quality physical therapy center in town was a driving force," Rubenstein said. "We love the people in this area and it was a natural fit. When we started this business we didn't even have an office, we just started seeing patients in their homes and built up a following that way."
Rubenstein was inspired to enter the health care field having grown up with a grandmother with Parkinson's Disease, in addition to his challenges recovering from back surgery at the age of 16.
Based on their experiences, Rubenstein and Hunt worked to not only encourage healing through exercise, but also through the power of positive thinking.
"We've always tried to create a positive atmosphere where people enjoy coming in," he said. "When people are in pain, you don't want them to dread coming in. We want them to have a good experience and enjoy the atmosphere with a social environment that makes people feel comfortable. We want to know what their goals are and how we can help them achieve those goals, instead of focusing on the pain, because that helps people achieve great things."
Jersey Physical Therapy specializes in treating neck and back pain, in addition to patients recovering from surgery. They also treat patients dealing with chronic neurological issues.
"We treat everything from the neck down to the feet," Rubenstein said. "When someone comes in here, they're spending a lot of time with our therapists, not just running through exercises. This is hands-on, one-on-one manual therapy."
One of the biggest challenges for a small business owner in the field of health care is dealing with the changes brought on by "Obamacare," which Rubenstein said presents a hurdle for patients and practitioners.
"There are a lot of hoops to jump through for proper authorization and the amount of coverage insurance will provide, but we work with our patients to help them understand what their benefits are," he said. "Patients now have higher co-pays and we try to work with them the best we can."
When the group added partner Sean Moore in 2006 for the launch of their East Brunswick location, Jersey Physical Therapy brought along the same principles to their new office.
"We value every part of the business from the front desk, to our assistants, to our billing department," Rubenstein said. "We've had very little turnover in 10 years. We have excellent people who work for us at both offices. These communities have really supported us and we do what we can to give back to them."
Ultimately, Rubenstein said the goal of Jersey Physical Therapy is to use a friendly and family inspired atmosphere to instill in patients a positive mental outlook that enables their recovery to extend outside of their visits to the office.
"When we treat a patient, we're not just treating the physical needs but the psychological needs as well," he added. "You have to have a good attitude because that's part of what helps you get better quicker. If they believe they will get better then they will go home and do their exercises instead of avoiding them. The patient always gets better quicker and has better outcomes when you treat the whole patient, and not just the physical needs."