Monday, December 31, 2001

BURR RIDGE, Ill. ­ Alco Sales & Service, a distribution company here well known for its healthcare equipment and parts catalogs, has revamped its Web site so that 50,000 of its products can now be ordered online at

Before the overhaul, visitors to Alco's Web site could only sign up to have one of the company's 10 catalogs sent to them by mail.

Dan Collins, Alco's director of marketing, said the company was spurred to move to e-commerce because its largest base of customers ­ hospitals ­ are using the Internet more and more to reduce work and eliminate paper. Also, he said Alco's competitors are moving to the Web, and the company doesn't want to be left behind.

For equipment, Alco's new Web site offers the company's full line of wheelchairs and diagnostic equipment. For parts, the company offers a wide range of casters and wheels, as well as wheelchair and blood pressure parts.

Collins said suppliers of home medical equipment are a small percentage of Alco's customer base ­ probably 5%. He said although it offers a lot of HME, the company hasn't targeted HME suppliers because, if they're big enough, they can probably get the same discounts from manufacturers that Alco can.

"But I don't think we've explored that avenue as much as we can," Collins said. HME
Hospitals, nursing homes and other long-term care facilities make up most of Alco's business, Collins said.

Alco distributes for more than 200 different manufacturers, including Everest & Jennings and Invacare. Its catalogs, which range from 400-plus pages to 32 pages, go to about 6,500 hospitals and 1,900 nursing homes, Collins said. HME