His last Medtrade? Shelly Prial's mum

Friday, September 25, 2015

It’s a safe bet you won’t find too many 88-year-olds who are still working. And you’re unlikely to see many people of that vintage wandering the halls of the Georgia World Congress Center for Medtrade 2015.

Unless you’re talking about Shelly Prial.

As the HME industry’s version of the Energizer Bunny who keeps going and going and going, Prial is still a fixture at Medtrade, just as he was when the show began more than three decades ago. He is long past icon status for the industry and the show and while he’s not as ubiquitous as he once was, count on him showing up for all the important events this year, just as he always has.

“I haven’t made my reservations yet because I have to figure out how I’m going to get there,” he said recently from his new home in Goose Creek, S.C. “But I can’t imagine not going.”

In fact, while some have speculated this will be his final show, Shelly isn’t talking about a swan song for Medtrade. He’s saying the same things he has always said ahead of the show: “Medtrade is the forum for HME providers to unite and work together toward a better future. Attendees and exhibitors need to realize how much they can accomplish when they pull together as a team.”

That doesn’t sound like someone who is throwing in the towel at show’s end. No one could blame him if he did, though. His career in the healthcare industry goes back to 1950 when he worked as a pharmacist in his native Brooklyn, N.Y. Over the next 65 years, he worked in different capacities within the medical/surgical and home medical equipment industries. Besides owning a DME shop in Massachusetts, he founded and operated the Homecare Provider’s Co-op for more than 20 years. More recently he has served as “Ambassador” of the Medtrade Show along with writing a blog and offering consulting services.

Educating his peers has long been Shelly’s passion, going back to his pharmacy days.

“If I can share what I’ve done well, people can learn,” he said. “I don’t mean that in a boastful way. I just want to help. I want to share my knowledge with everyone.”

As for retirement, let’s just say it’s not in the cards. “I won’t retire completely,” Prial said. “I may slow down a little more, but I will continue to be involved with the industry in some capacity.”