Alliance recruits

Thursday, April 30, 2009

NEW BRAUNFELS, Texas--Alliance Seating & Mobility, the complex rehab division of The Scooter Store, has ruffled feathers in the industry with its efforts to recruit assistive technology professionals (ATPs).

ATPs in various markets, especially those in Florida, have received calls from a headhunting agency representing Alliance, offering them $100,000-plus salaries, industry sources say.

“The situation the industry’s in right now - everyone’s just trying to survive,” said Cindi Petito, an ATP and owner of Seating Profiles in Jacksonville, Fla. “So when you have Alliance calling ATPs to offer them the world, it doesn’t go over very well.”

ATPs are a hot commodity now that Medicare requires providers to have them on staff to provide certain wheelchairs. Most get paid anywhere from $60,000 to $80,000, depending on experience and location, according to industry estimates.

Industry sources acknowledge that Alliance’s recruiting efforts aren’t illegal, but that doesn’t make them OK, they say.

“It’s in poor taste,” said Gary Gilberti, president of Chesapeake Rehab Equipment in Camp Hill, Pa. “The problem is that we invest a lot of time and money into these folks - we help them get trained, educated and certified.”

Provider Ron Reed says none of his ATPs plan to jump ship, despite Alliance’s best efforts.

“Our employees know they are well taken care of,” said Reed, CEO and owner of Benchmark Mobility in Indianapolis. “They know that as the company grows, their checks get bigger. They put their trust in me, and I put my trust in them.”

While a $100,000 salary and other perks may be tempting, ATPs should “carefully assess” Alliance’s offer before accepting, industry sources say.

“Alliance is a growing company and what they’re doing isn’t unusual,” said Mark Schmeler, a faculty member at the University of Pittsburgh. “But you have to ask yourself: Is the salary sustainable or is it a teaser rate? Once I accept their offer, do I burn bridges with everyone else? It’s not about short-term, fast money.”

Cindi Petito, an ATP contacted by the headhunting agency, agreed.

“Any time someone offers you $100,000, you know they’re going to be on top of you about sales,” said Petito, owner of Seating Profiles in Jacksonville, Fla. “Do you want your job to be about sales or quality of service?”