CEO Cucuel leaves Air Products

Monday, October 31, 2005

LEIGH VALLEY, Pa. - Bob Cucuel, who rolled up a large East Coast HME company and then sold it to industrial gas giant Air Products in 2002 for $165 million, announced last month that he would step down as CEO to "pursue other opportunities."
"The three year anniversary of the (acquisition) was last Saturday (Oct. 1), and I had agreed to stay on for three years," Cucuel told HME News. "The company's strategy will not change because one person moves on. There is a great team to lead the company into the future."
Current Chief Operating Officer Dave Hunter began managing the business, effective Oct. 1, 2005. Hunter joined Air Products Healthcare in 2002 after 16 years with Air Products and has led the finance, IT and operations functions since joining the U.S. homecare business.
As for what his future holds, Cucuel said, he plans to "go to private equity and build another company" in some other area of health care.
Cucuel began rolling up American Homecare Supply in 1999. The company changed its name to Air Products Healthcare after the acquisition.
Despite exiting the HME industry, Cucuel said, he believes the market is poised for "dynamic growth" over the coming years. The reasons for his optimism are threefold. First, the country's aging demographics bode well for home care and HME. Secondly, insurers recognize the cost effectiveness of home care. Thirdly, as technology improves, more healthcare services will be provided in the home.
But with competitive bidding looming and reimbursement, in general, unlikely to improve anytime soon, to survive and thrive, providers must become more productive, he said.
"Operations must be streamlined so they can add volume without overhead," he said. "The less paper people have to touch, the more productive they will be at the end of the day."