Apria shakes up management, eyes organic growth

Sunday, December 4, 2005

LAKE FOREST, Calif. - Apria Healthcare, which recently reported disappointing financial growth, plans to come out of the gates running in 2006 by shaking up its sales and marketing teams and reorganizing the territories they cover.

The goal: to ramp up organic growth, according to a company official.
Apria announced in late November it was injecting new blood into its top sales post. The company named Jeff Ingram executive vice president, sales, with responsibility for both sales and marketing. He previously served as Apria's senior vice president, national accounts.

The company also reorganized its sales divisions into three geographic regions instead of four--a move designed to save on overhead and infrastructure costs like travel and entrainment, said Lisa Getson, Apria's executive vice president, business development and clinical services.

"I wouldn't call (the announcement) step one of a series of steps, but it's one of many initiatives that we have under way or plan to have under way," she said. "We're positioning the company to get a strong start in 2006."

One of those other initiatives: new clinical marketing programs to help the sales team differentiate Apria from its competitors, Getson said.

"With Jeff leading the entire sales force, and using new programs and traditional sales efforts, we expect better organic growth on all levels," she said.

The shake up comes as no surprise to industry sources. In late October, Apria took down its for sale sign and reported a growth rate of 1%. (The company's goal was, and continues to be, the industry growth rate of 5% to 7%, Getson said.)

To reverse its slowing trend, Apria needs to jump start organic growth and "wake up" its sales team, said one industry source.

"They've made some moves," he said. "They've signed some big contracts and negotiated others at better rates, and that's going to go into their organic growth numbers. OK, but how do you wake up thousands of sales people to go after the referral?"

In its Nov. 29 announcement, Apria also named Daniel Stark to the newly created position of executive vice president, customer services. He previously served as the company's executive vice president, business operations.

Anthony Domenico, executive vice president, sales, and John McDowell, executive vice president, logistics, both left the company to pursue other interests.