A fresh coat of white

A Maryland physician buys a shirt company, then creates the kind of lab coat he always wanted.

By Katherine Vogt — Posted June 13, 2005

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Making sidelines pay

Business Pitch

Doctors who branched out beyond running their practice tell why they did it, how they did it, and what you should know before you do it.
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Name: Daniel E. Kohn, MD.

Specialties: Emergency medicine and internal medicine.

Location: Baltimore

Business: Aetna Shirt Co. and On Call Medical Coats. The shirt company, founded in 1916, specializes in making formal and dress shirts for private businesses and institutions as well as for the Army, Navy, Air Force and Marines. Its subsidiary, the brainchild of Dr. Kohn, makes medical coats with special fabrics, reinforced seams and extra pockets. The coats sell for $45 to $150 each. Customers include the television program "ER" and clients as far away as Japan.

Annual revenues: Nearly $1 million.

Why he got into the business: Dr. Kohn rehabilitates old buildings. He toured an old shirt factory after an apparel maker that had bought it went bankrupt. "What I saw was apparel production. I was just fascinated by the process and I thought, 'This is a new challenge.' " In 1997, he bought Aetna Shirt and then the factory. After a year, he came up with the idea of making high-quality medical coats. "It occurred to me that after 25 years of practice, I was never able to find a nicer white coat. So I thought we could adapt the resources of this sewing company to make a nicer white coat."

Why he still practices: "I continue to practice medicine because I enjoy medicine. At some point I may need to make a choice between the two, but the business is being competently run by the general manager. This allows me to practice medicine and work at the business in the capacities to which I am best suited: marketing the coats, overseeing quality, and looking for enhancements and new fabrics."

Words of wisdom: "Conrad Hilton said, 'If you want to launch big ships, you have to go where the water is deep.' You have to be willing to endure some hard times. If you firmly believe what you are working on, ultimately you can persevere on the challenges."

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