Former Miami Dolphins star kicks off Fonar campaign aimed at pro athletes

June 13, 2005

It would be hard to find a group of patients in the U.S. taller or bulkier than professional athletes. Not surprisingly, these patients are top candidates for open MR scanners. Fonar is now targeting them with a marketing campaign that features former Miami Dolphin Garo Yepremian as their point man. The effort is already bearing results. The company is crediting Yepremian with playing a key role in its sale of an Upright MR scanner to a site located in the greater Philadelphia area.

It would be hard to find a group of patients in the U.S. taller or bulkier than professional athletes. Not surprisingly, these patients are top candidates for open MR scanners. Fonar is now targeting them with a marketing campaign that features former Miami Dolphin Garo Yepremian as their point man. The effort is already bearing results. The company is crediting Yepremian with playing a key role in its sale of an Upright MR scanner to a site located in the greater Philadelphia area.

"Garo's excitement about the Upright MRI encouraged several entrepreneurial businessmen and a local M.D. to make this recent sale," said Fonar senior vice president David Terry.

Fonar appears to be on the rebound from years of red ink, narrowing its losses or slipping into the black in recent quarters. Much of this revenue has come from the sale of its Upright MR open scanner to imaging groups outside the radiological mainstream.

The Upright is essentially a conventional open scanner turned to place the patient in a vertical position. The company claims about 85% of patients are scanned sitting while they watch a 42-inch flat screen TV located across the room.

The Philadelphia placement exemplifies the merits of Fonar's sports program, which is designed to encourage professional athletes to seek out the Upright when they need scans. The company is focusing initially on pro football players, according to Terry.

"Football was an obvious area to start since there are a lot of big men in the NFL," he said. "We've had 500-pound patients scanned in the Upright MRI."

Yepremian is ideally suited to help lead the company's sports effort. The former Dolphin place kicker owns a berth in the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, OH. He scored points in three Super Bowls (VI, VII, and VIII) and played on the NFL's only undefeated team, the 17-0 1972 Miami Dolphins.

Fonar has featured Yepremian in its booth at the past two RSNA meetings, where he has posed for pictures and signed autographs. In his expanded role, he serves as a spokesperson for the company at sports events and at demonstrations of the Upright scanner at sports facilities. Fonar hauls the scanner there in a tractor trailer the company describes as a "mobile showroom."

"We have an opportunity to introduce our product to a special group of people, the

sports celebrity, and the people who attend these events with the celebrities," Terry said. "It gives us the opportunity to actually place athletes in the scanner to give them a feel for it."