DeVilbiss re-emerges

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

SOMERSET, Pa. – DeVilbiss Healthcare’s split from Sunrise Medical may seem like old news, but it’s not.

Sunrise Medical announced in 2007 that it would split into two independent companies—Sunrise Medical for mobility products and DeVilbiss Healthcare for respiratory products—but the move wasn’t completed until 2010.

Then it took DeVilbiss well into 2011 to deal with “operational difficulties” due to what new President and CEO Ed Murphy calls “separation anxiety.” Chief among those difficulties: a new enterprise resource planning system, which controls the company’s production, inventory, etc.

But now, Murphy is ready to say: “The best way to sum up my goal for DeVilbiss is to bring it back to its former glory. You’re talking about a company that’s been around for almost 125 years—it has been one of the leaders in the industry. But it kind of lost its way when it was combined with Sunrise. Now I believe we’ve regained our focus and we’re back on a growth path.”

Murphy joined DeVilbiss as COO in July. When then-President and CEO Alan Panzer decided to relinquish his day-to-day duties and become chairman of the board, Murphy took over the reins. He’s no stranger to the medical device industry: His past employers include Baxter (respiratory), Intertech Resources (disposables) and TherMatrx (urologicals).

With things now humming along smoothly at its facility in Somerset, Pa., DeVilbiss can now focus on re-connecting with its customers. It’s doing that by, among other things, increasing the size of its sales force, boosting its presence at trade shows like Medtrade and taking out ads.

“We’ve already changed from an inward-looking focus to an outward-looking focus,” he said. “Now we’re working with customers to help them solve some of their problems.”

With a foot in both home oxygen (including portable and transfilling technology) and sleep therapy (including auto-adjust technology), DeVilbiss believes it’s well-positioned to help providers weather competitive bidding and other reimbursement challenges.

“With the cross-pressures that are occurring and are going to continue to occur in this industry, everyone’s looking to streamline their operations, and the ability to deal with fewer vendors is always something people look to do,” he said.