Friday, October 31, 2003

PORT WASHINGTON, N.Y. - Drive Medical Design and Manufacturing acquired Wenzelite, a manufacturer of rehabilitation equipment, in a deal announced Sept. 5.

The company’s principal, Aaron Goldstein, will stick with the 20-year-old Brooklyn-based maker of rollers and seating and positioning products as Drive expands its business into higher-end rehab.

“Were going to take that line and try to improve it even further, and try to add a lot of other products around it,” said Harvey Diamond, president of Drive.

The Wenzelite acquisition is Drive’s third, after Medex and Winmed - companies of roughly the same size. But around Medtrade this year, the three-and-a-half year-old manufacturer expects to begin announcing acquisitions of a grander order.

“We have gotten a few smaller acquisitions under our belt, really to make sure we had our own house in order,” said Doug Francis, Drive’s executive vice president. “Now we’re ready to do some blockbuster acquisitions that will catapult us to the next level.”

In the meantime, Drive is rapidly plugging holes in its product line, hoping that HME providers will see the company as an alternative to existing full-line manufacturers of home medical equipment. At Medtrade, the company introduced a five-liter oxygen concentrator, the GO2, and its first power chair, a rear-wheel drive unit called the SunFire.

Both products, like the bulk of Drive’s 1,200 SKUs, are manufactured in China.

To complement existing distribution facilities in New York, Atlanta and Fort Myers, Drive plans to open a new facility in California about four weeks after Medtrade.

Since last year, Drive has expanded its sales force by about 40% to 20 direct sales reps and 30 more independent reps.

The company’s growth, according to Diamond, has been “staggering.”

“I don’t know of another company that has had the kind of growth we’ve had,” he said. “Our business doesn’t grow in percentages, it’s been doubling and tripling each year.”