The British are coming!

Sunday, November 29, 2009

SAN DIEGO - British respiratory products manufacturer Clement Clarke International is taking another stab at expanding its presence in the U.S. home medical equipment market.

The 92-year-old company recently hired industry veteran Stuart Novitz as vice president of sales and marketing for North America and charged him with expanding the firm's "distribution foot print."

"I'm in business-development mode right now," said Novitz, who until two years ago served as SeQual Technologies' North American sales manager.  "I have to see what dog food the dog is going to eat."

Clement Clarke's respiratory products include, among other things, digital peak flow meters, spirometers, nubulizers, nasal cannulas and oxygen tubing.

About six years ago, the company stationed a person in the United States but had limited success penetrating the market. This time around, with a veteran of the U.S. HME industry leading the charge, the company expects better results.

The trick, said Novitz, is determining what products will meet a market need. The likely candidates: higher-end niche products that provide Clement Clarke an adequate profit margin, offer providers cost-effective solutions, and serve patients better than current products on the market.

A high-pressure nebulizer might fit the bill, as might digital peak flow meters and other diagnostic devices that could be sold for cash. Clement Clarke has a line of cannulas and tubing manufactured in the United Kingdom, "but my gut is that we are not going to be able to go head-to-head with the Salters and Hudson RCIs of the world," Novitz said.

As part of his market research, Novitz is talking to providers and distributors.

"Right now it's finding out what we can do to be successful, not only this year and next, but five or 10 years from now," Novitz said. "The U.S. market is huge, and Clement Clarke is very serious. They are saying, 'If we want to grow the company, the U.S. is where we have to be.' We're all scratching our heads as to why we haven't done this sooner."