Is J&J drumming up a dealer network?

Sunday, April 11, 2004

April 12, 2004

WARREN, N.J. - Independence Technologies, the Johnson & Johnson subsidiary best known for its stair-climbing iBot power wheelchair, rolled out the welcome mat to HME suppliers at the Medtrade Spring show this year, one year after the company launched its iGlide manual assist wheelchair, which it planned to take direct to the end-user.
At Medtrade, Independence declined to talk about its reasons for being at the show. But a spokesman later said the development of a dealer network for the iGlide was a “possibility.”
“[Independence] is always exploring options that enhance the ability of the company to meet the needs of its customers,” said Jay Van Vechten, an Independence spokesman. “This now includes the evaluation of a distribution model that involves DME providers.”
Van Vechten warned against presumptions that Independence’s presence at Medtrade was evidence that direct-to-consumer efforts were not going well.
One wheelchair industry insider who said he’s talked to Independence reps said the iGlide’s sales people were being shut out of rehab facilities after the facilities learned the chair wasn’t available through usual suppliers.
Van Vechten said the company’s efforts at Medtrade Spring do not involve the iBot.