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Steady Diet of Success Keeps this Nutritionist’s Business Healthy

Steady Diet of Success Keeps this  Nutritionist’s Business Healthy

UNION, NJ---When it comes to keeping your body fit and healthy, nutritionist Dr. Laura Rokosz knows exactly what to tell her patients.

But four years ago, when she decided to leave her 28-year career in the pharma/biotechnology industry, where she researched and helped to develop therapeutic drugs, she was at a loss on how to start her small business.

“Here I was with my B.S. M.S. and PhD in Food Science from Rutgers University, but I wasn’t helping anyone.” said Dr. Rokosz “Knowing that I wanted to commit myself to helping people get healthy was the easy part.  The hard part was creating a successful business model that would help me reach the patients that could benefit from my company’s services.”

So after much contemplation she decided to take the plunge and form EGGLRock Nutrition, LLC, a Union-based practice that focuses on providing dietary and lifestyle strategies for disease prevention and health-maintenance.  Initially, Dr. Rokosz struggled to find the right formula for building her business.

That all changed for the better, when she met David Margulies, regional director of the New Jersey Small Business Development Center (SBDC) at Kean University.  Kean University, within its College of Business and Public Management is host to the SBDC on its campus serving the small business community of Union County.  The center is one of 12 centers in the entire State and provides services to several hundred small business clients a year.  Entrepreneurs like Dr. Rokosz benefit from the no-cost counseling on the basics of managing and operating a small business and from the the collaborations the center enjoys with the University, which helps to facilitate community outreach and foster student/faculty experiential learning.  

According to U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) New Jersey District Director Al Titone, the 12 centers receive their funding through a grant from the SBA to provide no-cost business counseling to area entrepreneurs and small business owners looking to start or expand a small business.  In 2017, the SBA will contribute $3 million to the SBDC network headquartered in the Rutgers Business School in Newark.   The state of New Jersey leverages that SBA grant by providing the NJSBDC network with matching funds.

“When I met Dr. Laura, it was clear that she was passionate about what she wanted to do,” said Margulies.   “She just needed a little guidance on developing revenue streams and the basics of managing her finances.”

With Margulies’ mentoring and counsel, Dr. Rokosz began to see instant results.   At Margulies suggestion, Dr. Rokosz purchased a Body Composition Analyzer.  The equipment helps Dr.  Rokosz determine a patient’s ratio of fat to lean mass, total muscle mass, the percentage of water in the body, and bone mineral content, along with basal metabolic rate (BMR) and body mass index (BMI).

“The analyzer has become an added value service that I now provide for my patients,” said Dr. Rokosz.  “It generates a 14-page report for the patient and gives me the data I need to recommend a personalized dietary and fitness strategy.  When lean mass goes up and fat mass goes down improved health will follow as a result of reduced inflammation.” 

In order to build her patient-base, Margulies also suggested that Dr. Rokosz begin to accept different forms of health insurance, including Medicare and Medicaid.  This required completion of the pain-staking process of becoming credentialed with the major Healthcare payers in New Jersey and then learning all the billing and coding regulations needed to receive payments.  However, as her practice began to expand, she was able to outsource the billing and coding to a third party, so that she could concentrate on growing the practice.

Freeing up that time has enabled her to expand her role as a distributor of Juice Plus+, a company that carries whole food products made from fruits and vegetables.  The company owns farms and nurseries all over the world, growing crops that are completely organic, non-GMO, Gluten-free, Kosher and NSF Certified.  “I researched many holistic health companies and Juice Plus+ was a good fit for EGGLRock Nutrition.  Their products are clinically validated to show improvements in the same biomarkers of health and disease that I used in drug development, proving that food really IS medicine” said Dr. Rokosz.  “In general, the majority of my patients are not consuming enough fruits and vegetables needed for optimal health.  I believe in Juice Plus+ and feel that their products complement my mission of disease prevention and health maintenance.”

As a result of the assistance Dr. Rokosz received from the NJSBDC at Kean University, EGGLRock Nutrition has become a successful practice that has grown to 400 patients.  “We’re seeing four patients a day and our goal is to get that up to eight patients per day,” said Dr. Rokosz. “When David Margulies first met me he told me ‘if you don’t ask, you don’t get’– I took those words to heart. Today, I’m not afraid to walk into a doctor’s office and ask how I can help their patients with our services or if they are interested in Juice Plus+.  Since that first meeting with the NJSBDC our growth has been five-fold.”

That growth led to Dr. Rokosz being awarded a NJSBDC Success Award recipient in 2015 and Business of the Year award from the Union, NJ Chamber of Commerce in 2016. 

“Sometimes a little advice and encouragement can go a long way for a fledgling small business like EGGLRock Nutrition,” said Titone. “For 39 years the NJSBDC has had a significant impact on the local economy.  In 2016, 4,228 clients received no-cost one-on-one business counseling from NJSBDC.  More importantly, those clients generated an estimated 1.3 billion in sales revenue, created or retained over 16,000 jobs, while generating conservatively $70 million in sales tax revenue to the NJ State Treasury.  These are the type of results that we like to talk about, when we measure the effectiveness of this program.”

In the future, Dr. Rokosz envisions a larger scale health and wellness center that will enable her to add and incorporate a yoga studio, an acupuncturist and chiropractor into the mix. 

She points to a Tower Garden that is visible as soon as you enter her office.  The tower employs aeroponics, the process of growing plants in an air or mist environment without the use of soil.  The green vegetation is a constant reminder to her patients that in order to achieve optimum health they have to embrace a healthier lifestyle.  “Knowing that I am able to share my knowledge and help my patients transform their lives is the big payoff for me,” said Dr. Rokosz.

It is also the healthier option on the menu for a small business owner/nutritionist who is now living off a steady diet of success.