Miami provider finds success on the high seas

Saturday, April 30, 2005

MIAMI, Fla. -- When Mark Levithan began looking to buy an HME company in 2004, the former Rotech manager had his eye out for something not overly dependent on third-party reimbursement.
"I saw the times were changing," he said. "Competitive bidding was coming up in 2007. HMOs are cutting back. Everything is changing."
Enter Randle Medical Supply, which he acquired last year. The company is one of the largest -- if not the largest -- providers of DME to cruise lines in the United States. Levithan, currently services ships that dock in Miami, Ft. Lauderdale, Tampa, Galveston, Texas, and ports in Puerto Rico. He has begun searching for HME partners to help him expand this business, which is strictly cash, to other U.S. ports. (To accommodate his company's growth, Levithan moved to a new 3,600-square-foot location in March.)
"Mark has these cruise lines wrapped around his fingers and can march right in -- some companies can't even get near the cruise ships," said Brad Werkmeister, associate vice president of VGM's Freedom Link, which coordinates DME services for traveling patients.
Indeed, with fears about terrorism and other security concerns, Cruise lines don't want "just anyone" providing travelers with oxygen cylinders. When he looked into buying Randle Medical, the relationships the company had forged with the major cruise lines proved a major selling point, Levithan said.
"This is a tough business for a new person to break into," he said. "A lot of the [national HMEs] can't get on the ships. Every cruise line and ship has its own set of rules. A ship is run like a military operation. It's pretty tight."