FLA puts off-the-shelf braces on the HME shelf

Wednesday, August 31, 2005

MIRAMAR, Fla. -- FLA Orthopedics has a new CEO, a new parent company, a new acquisition and new plans to double its revenues to nearly $50 million in three years.
Last month, the manufacturer of orthopedic and soft good products finalized its acquisition of American Professional Bracing (APB), a company of 15 employees best known for its off-the-shelf back brace called the V-Loc.
The acquisition is a first for FLA, and the most visible flex of the new financial might the company picked up last December after its own acquisition by a private equity firm called The Riverside Company. In March, Riverside hired Rex Niles as CEO for FLA. Niles had been CEO at DHD Healthcare, a distributor of respiratory products to hospitals and nursing homes.
"American Professional Bracing moves FLA into a new market that also opens up fresh opportunities for our HME retail and other customers," Niles said in a press release. "Off-the-shelf back braces are taking market share from custom braces because they are more convenient and provide the necessary treatment at a fraction of the cost."
FLA plans to consolidate APB's manufacturing, but maintain the existing sales and customer service functions at the Eatontown, N.J. facility.
At the same time, FLA is trying to broaden its image as a company that does more than orthopedics. In 1996, the company added compression hosiery. Later on, there was a line of off-the-shelf foot-case products. And in 2003, FLA branched into wheelchair cushions.
Meanwhile, the business in orthopedics remains strong, said Rhonda Newman, FLA's vice president of marketing.
"We continue to set up the same number of customers, and we see more dealers expanding their base," said Newman. "We see more dealers doing cash sales, as opposed to more of the reimbursement."