'Keep growing as long as the good lord will let us'

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

PERRYVILLE, Mo. - Healthcare Equipment & Supply Co. is on a roll. Late last year, the HME provider opened not one, but two retail showrooms: a 3,000-square-foot showroom in Farmington and an 800-square-foot showroom in Austin Pharmacy Plaza in Potosi.

"We're just in that mode right now to keep growing as long as the good Lord will let us," said Patrick Naeger, executive vice president of Healthcare Equipment. "It's just survive, survive, survive."

Healthcare Equipment now has four showrooms, plus the smaller showroom in the plaza.

Naeger says Healthcare Equipment, a full-line HME provider, expanded into Farmington, a town of about 20,000 people, after an HME provider there downsized.

"They started concentrating on respiratory, so we came in to fill the gaps," he said.

Healthcare Equipment decided to sublet space in the newly expanded plaza to take advantage of the similarities between HME and pharmacy customers. With that in mind, it will offer a modified product mix that includes diabetic supplies and compression hosiery.

"We're going to enjoy their traffic and they're going to enjoy ours," he said.

It's interesting that Austin Pharmacy didn't open an HME showroom of its own, says industry consultant Jack Evans.

"There are very few categories left for pharmacies to do well in, so they need something on the front end that's a big-ticket item and profitable," said Evans, the president of Global Media Marketing.

But Healthcare Equipment's and Austin Pharmacy's circumstances are unique. Naegle is business partners with one of the owners of Austin Pharmacy.

"So we're kind of joining forces," he said.