Herron & Smith: 'This business has been rewarding'
Conversations over coffee and a "spark" of enlightenment formed the genesis of Herron & Smith, which observes its 25th year in 2009.
Co-founder Bernadine Herron and former partner Christine Smith, both registered nurses with hospital backgrounds, launched their home medical equipment business in 1984 to fill a gaping void in this town of approximately 13,000 in south central New Hampshire.
"We wanted to control our own destiny and do something exciting," Herron said. "A colleague recommended the equipment side and though we didn't realize it at first, it dawned on me that equipment is a tool of treatment. That got a spark going. Chris and I started talking over coffee and before long we quit our jobs and started the company."
Though Smith left the partnership in 1990, the duo's name lives on. Herron recently looked back over the past quarter century to review the company's progress.
HME News: What was it like in the early days?
Bernadine Herron: In the beginning, a physician would call for a glucometer and we supplied it. We would go into homes to teach the patient about how the glucometer works and find out things about their diet, their work schedule, what they understood about diabetes and report back to the doctor. We looked at the total picture.
HME: How has your nursing background helped you?
Herron: I can walk into a house with an ALS patient and have them tell me about their challenges. That way I can come up with the equipment to help them. I always incorporate some degree of nursing into the business--it is ingrained. Being a nurse also gives me a sense of credibility with patients and referral sources.
HME: What is the most satisfying part of operating an HME business?
Herron: At the end of the day, you have done something good for somebody. When I get thanked for what I do, it makes my day. For me, it's not about the money. I tell my staff that even if you just fix a brake on a wheelchair, you've made that patient safer.
HME: What has been the key to your longevity?
Herron: Personally this business has been tremendously rewarding, knowing I am part of a successful company keeps me going. It's what I do. I have dedicated my body to this business, having had surgery on both shoulders and both knees. To achieve is personally rewarding and highly motivating. I have clients who have stayed with me all 25 years. My staff has passion: We get into the lives of our patients.