Tuesday, August 31, 2004

VALLY FORGE, Pa. - AmerisourceBergen launched a $350 million dollar program in June with the opening on a new, high-tech warehouse in Sacramento, Calif.

The new center is one of six sites the distributor plans to open the next two years. The next, in Columbus, Ohio, will launch early this fall. The network consolidation and enhancement program, called Optimiz, also includes the expansion of seven existing warehouses.

The new centers will support the company’s growing pharmaceutical business, but they could also result in renewed opportunities for its home healthcare/HME component.

“The Greenfield warehouses have space in the range of 300,000 square feet, so that will give us more capacity to hole more of the larger home health items,” said Barbara Brungess, AmerisourceBergen’s manager of corporate and investor relations.

Opening more space for inventory will hopefully allow the company to increase its capacity to distribute larger items, like hospital beds and wheelchairs, and also open itself up to cultivating manufacturing partnerships, say company officials.

The technological innovations of the Optimiz program are also intended to benefit customers through increase productivity and order accuracy.

“All of the home health items are bar coded and tracked and trace in the same manner as the drugs in the warehouse,” said Brungess. This paperless system will also allow customers to electronically cross check an order as it is unloaded off the truck.

AmerisourceBergen has also added or improved programs specifically aimed at its growing home care business. It is employing new marketing strategies and has developed a home health care customer service line to help customers get the correct products and to educate them on cross-selling opportunities. At its National Healthcare Conference and Exposition in July, AmerisourceBergen included a home healthcare track. The eight sessions touched on various HME issues, including showroom design, retail sales and marketing, and specific sessions on incontinence and respiratory care.

“I seen an enormous potential as it relates to durable good s and soft goods just from the sheer standpoint of the demographics in our country,” said G.J. Walley, the company’s national director of Home Healthcare. “And, there’s natural support for Amerisource-Bergen and our customers to grow and expand healthcare offerings.”