Mike Parsons returns

Saturday, January 31, 2009

If you heard the rumor that, after leaving Invacare in late 2004, Mike Parsons jumped into a Prevost coach bus to travel across the country with his wife, spend time with his grandchildren and open for Grammy Award-winning country singer Vern Gosdin, you heard right. But Parsons returned to the HME industry recently as vice president of sales and marketing for Sarasota, Fla.-based manufacturer Harmar Mobility. Why? Parsons says he loves the HME industry and he sees a way to help providers chart their future.

HME News: You were at Invacare for 27 years, most recently as North American vice president of sales.

What did you take away from seeing the company grow into the powerhouse that it is today?

Mike Parsons: One of the main things I learned is a simple business philosophy: You have to keep your eye on the ball. You have to really know who you are; you have to understand what you’re trying to accomplish; and you have to make sure the leadership that’s in place will roll that message downhill to everyone in the company.

HME: After leaving Invacare, you started consulting from the road, right?

Parsons: Yes, I didn’t want to leave the industry completely. I helped providers reduce costs and consolidate purchasing. I also served as a sounding board to investors looking to invest in the HME industry. A lot of them aren’t aware of issues pertaining to Medicare.

HME: Are you surprised investors are so interested in the HME industry, given the current reimbursement climate?

Parsons: Not at all. They look at the demographics and they think, “This has to be a great growth industry.” And by the way, in my opinion, it is and it will continue to be.

HME: How will the HME industry remain viable?

Parsons: I think providers need to concentrate on building their cash sales. There are very few providers who do. I can’t tell you the countless hours and dollars that all manufacturers have put into emphasizing retail in the last three years.

HME: Yet…?

Parsons: When you’re trying to convince providers who rely on Medicare and Medicaid for 95% of their business, it’s like trying to pound a square peg into a round hole.

HME: So it takes a leap of faith?

Parsons: What got me excited about joining Harmar is that all its products are cash products. They have no HCPCS codes. They aren’t reimbursed by Medicare. So what providers have to do is build a cash line of business. They have to focus on marketing and advertising. They have to commit the resources to it.

HME: So what was it like, traveling across the country?

Parsons: I’ve flown from every single corner of this country and all over the world, but it’s hard to really see the beauty of any place, particularly this place, until you’re able to look at it through a windshield.