Industry veterans partner to form HME

Thursday, August 31, 2006

NEWARK, Del. - Once you're in the HME business, it's in your blood--you stay in it, Richard Kreider says. That's certainly the case for him and his two partners in a new company called First Choice Home Medical Equipment.
Together, Kreider, Michael Eddy and Craig Rotenberry have more than 100 years of experience in HME. For Kreider, who sold his company, Delcrest Medical Products, in the early 1990s, First Choice is proof that it's hard to leave the industry.
"Selling Delcrest was a good opportunity for me, personally, at that time, but being out of HME for a few years, I missed it," Kreider said.
Kreider, Eddy and Rotenberry acquired the HME arm of Christiana Care Visiting Nurse Association earlier this year and turned it into First Choice, an HME that emphasizes respiratory services. Sometime soon, the company plans to debut a 16,000-square-foot Newark location that will double its footprint.
While Kreider, Eddy and Rotenberry are grateful that their ties to the nursing association will give them some built-in referral power, they know that, as a nonprofit turned for-profit, they'll need to expand their reach. That's where Kreider, who will oversee marketing and sales, comes in.
"We plan to increase our presence through our Web site, direct mailings and phone calls," he said.
In expanding its reach, First Choice plans to look to its Milford branch for inspiration.
"Milford is the model we're trying to emulate, when it comes to multiple referral sources," said Eddy, who's the branch manager there. "We've made inroads with social workers and discharge planners at local hospitals. We've developed relationships with the main pulmonary groups."
The Milford branch has grown enough in the past 12 months to add two full-time employees, Eddy said.
With all their experience in the industry, Kreider, Eddy and Rotenberry know there are significant challenges ahead--mainly competitive bidding--but they remain optimistic.
"We just need to focus on improving how we supply product," Kreider said.