Doug Crana grabs an exclusive

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

NEWBURGH, N.Y. – Like many providers these days, Doug Crana is interested in new products, and he thinks he’s found just the ticket.

Crana, president of Consolidated Medical, recently began offering an extremely lightweight manual wheelchair that was introduced to the U.S. market earlier this year. Made of carbon fiber, the Panthera X weighs 10 pounds with the wheels on, compared to 18 or 19 pounds for other chairs.

“It’s considered to be the lightest wheelchair in the world,” he said.

Crana first displayed the chair at an Abilities Expo in New Jersey. He ran out of literature on the first day. From that event, he ultimately sold several of the chairs—at about $10,000 each—to buyers who pay out of pocket. 

It’s definitely a niche market, Crana says.

“These are high-end chairs for high-end users,” he said. “It’s the client that does have money, but more important, sees the benefits of a wheelchair that only weighs 10 pounds.”

Crana has secured an exclusive contract for the chair, which is distributed by Triumph Mobility in this country, for the state of New York. He plans to slowly roll out a marketing campaign. For now though, he says, his best advertisement is the customers who have already bought chairs.

“These patients are out in public and they are seen in the chairs,” said Crana. “We are already getting referrals from that perspective.”

With competitive bidding on the horizon, Consolidated Medical has also turned an eye toward growing its retail offerings, with plans for an e-commerce site, as well as continuing with its other niche products and services, like orthotics and prosthetics.

“Many of us don’t expect to win any of the bids,” said Crana. “(But, even if you win), if anything, it’s going to bring your business down. I am not banking on bidding.”