Waiter, bartender, veterinary attendant, video store clerk, Hard Rock Hotel bellhop and valet driver, landscaper, dry cleaner, soccer coach, and yes, human tissue harvester. What do all of these occupations have in common? (Hint: They’re not items on a Buzzfeed list of obscure Halloween costumes.) No, the answer to this riddle is a little closer to home—at least for the WebPT family: They all appear on Brian Kunich’s résumé.
Of course, Brian’s days of steam-pressing suits and surgically extracting donor ligaments and tendons came well before his 12-plus-year career as a physical therapist. But all of the odd jobs in the world could never distract him from his true passion: helping people live their lives to the fullest.
It’s a passion that first emerged when Brian—a high school soccer star in his hometown of Las Vegas—got hurt on the field and started working with a physical therapist to rehab his injury. “Toward the tail-end of my rehab, I remember we were out in the grass training, and I thought, ‘Wow, this guy has such a cool job!’” Brian said. “That’s when I knew it was something I wanted to do.”
So, after high school graduation, Brian headed to Northern Arizona University in Flagstaff, where he earned an undergraduate degree in exercise science and a graduate degree in physical therapy—all the while playing club soccer for the Lumberjacks. After a brief stint as a PT in Vegas, Brian left the bright lights of the strip for the bright sun of the Phoenix desert.
Here in the Valley of the Sun, Brian started working at a large, multi-clinic physical therapy practice, eventually landing a role as the clinic director of a new location in 2002. He went on to manage an even larger clinic—one that contracted with the athletic departments of five large local high schools. He has a lot of fond memories from all of the Friday nights he spent on the sidelines, and he still follows the athletic careers of some of the kids he worked with—a handful of whom ended up making it to the pros.
But in the end, the grueling schedule he kept during major sports seasons led him to consider other career options. Moving from a large clinic environment to a smaller private practice helped—and also gave his mind some much-needed clarity. It was at that point that he started drawing up the plans for an idea he’d been kicking around for a while: creating some kind of online discount store for therapy products. “Going from a large practice environment to a smaller private practice, I saw the disparity in the discounts clinics have access to,” he said. “And I realized that there wasn’t really anybody out there doing it right for everybody.”
He figured there had to be a way for small practice owners to join together and leverage their combined buying power to get some of the same price perks that large clinic chains are able to snag. Right around that time, Brian—who used WebPT’s EMR in his clinic—attended the very first WebPT Evolve user conference. There, he approached WebPT Founder and COO Heidi Jannenga and described his vision. “That led to lunch with Heidi, which led to coffee with [WebPT President and CTO] Brad [Jannenga], and then, eventually, a meeting with Heidi, Brad, and [WebPT CEO] Paul [Winandy],” Brian explained. The meetings continued on a regular basis over the course of the next several weeks. “I just kept thinking, ‘Hey, this would be ideal if it could all come together,’” Brian said.
In 2012, the stars aligned and Brian formally came aboard the WebPT ship. He worked with the development team for more than a year to bring his vision to fruition, and finally, in April 2013, the WebPT Marketplace was born. Right off the bat, Marketplace shoppers were saving upwards of 25% on a wide variety of products, from weights and balance balls to pre-wrap and athletic tape. Since then, the Marketplace team has grown to four, and Brian—who serves as the crew’s manager—hopes to keep the momentum going. “We want to be the resource for everything that’s new and cool in physical therapy,” he said.
While he has big plans for the future, Brian is happy with all that he and his team have achieved thus far, and he is grateful for the opportunity to serve an industry for which he has so much respect and passion. “[PTs] are such a good group of people who are trying to do the right things,” he said. “But they don’t get any breaks. There are so many rules and regulations they have to deal with, and life in the clinic can get to be kind of a grind. But WebPT is trying to help; we’re trying to provide the breaks.”
Speaking of life in the clinic—people often ask Brian if he misses working with patients in a treatment capacity. “I’m definitely still interested in the clinical side of things,” he said. So, he stays sharp by working with elite soccer players in his spare time—he has actually traveled to youth soccer nationals—and by serving as a resource to fellow WebPTers. “I get to evaluate like five people a week here,” he joked.
Also on the soccer front, Brian still plays competitively on the weekends, and he recently started coaching his son’s soccer team. In addition to keeping up with his kids—son Caden is six, and daughter Taylor is four—Brian stays active by chasing around the newest addition to the Kunich family: Bailey the cockapoo.
While he certainly has his hands full, Brian is totally content with his life at the moment—so don’t expect him to add any more quirky job titles to his repertoire. After all, as every PT knows, there’s nothing better than the satisfaction of helping people—and that’s something Brian gets to do every day. “Knowing that at the end of the day, you’re having that impact on people—that’s what keeps you going,” he said.
Fave Five with Brian
- Favorite food: Mexican food (all of it)
- Favorite movie: Remember the Titans
- Favorite sports team: FC Barcelona
- Favorite musical artist: “Anything but twangy country music.”
- Favorite place: The beach