H.D. Smith goes all out for HME biz

Friday, March 31, 2006

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. - With the launch of a new Web site, a beefed up sales force and an expanded home health catalog, pharmaceutical wholesaler H.D. Smith continues to push hard to expand its presence in the HME marketplace.
"We have products, sales people, expertise and we deliver the next day," said Avi Weiss, Smith's director of homecare. "We're in this for the long haul."
In January, the distributor unveiled its new HomeCare Connection Web site, which allows providers to order online for the first time. Smith recently increased its dedicated homecare sales team to 12 and has plans to add three more reps, Weiss said. A year ago, the company employed seven homecare reps.
The company's new 260-page home health catalog debuts in April. The old catalog numbered 230 pages. Smith also plans to open a 70,000-square-foot distribution center in New Hampshire this summer and is building a new 250,000-square-foot center in Kearny, N.J.
Currently, Smith's homecare division services 4,000 to 7,000 customers, three-fourths of those are pharmacies that provide HME.
"We are still a drug company," Weiss said. "I'm a very small piece of a $2.5 billion company. I'm a profitable piece, but a small piece, and that is why they put up with me. As a company, this allows us to be a one-stop resource for all of our customers and that is what we are after."
Unlike larger wholesalers who often prefer large volume transactions with drug chains, H.D. Smith focuses on small drug chains and independent pharmacies and HMEs, according to Weiss.
That focus and one-stop-shop offering seems to be paying off. Over the past year, the company's homecare business has grown 37%.
Smith recently ran an Invacare promo for 12 weeks, with the top selling rep winning a trip to the Bay Hill Gold Classic.
"In 12 weeks, I equaled 50% of the total sales that I did with Invacare in 2003," Weiss said. "That is how fast we're growing."