New contacts! Leads! Taking orders!

Thursday, March 31, 2005

Based on their ambitious booth strategies, Medtrade Spring 2005 exhibitors expect their business to bloom during the show April 5-7 at the Las Vegas Convention Center.
Despite the undercurrent of wariness surrounding MMA restrictions, HME manufacturers are forging ahead with new product rollouts, technology to help providers conserve expenses and marketing programs to boost retail sales. Though the spring show is half the size and length of the fall Medtrade expo, vendors are optimistic that it will still be a worthwhile forum for making new contacts, gaining quality leads and writing up a significant number of orders regardless of MMA's lingering shadow.
"We're certainly excited about exhibiting at the show," said Cy Corgan, national sales manager for retail mobility at Exeter, Pa.-based Pride Mobility. "We've had great success at the show in the past couple of years and we expect even more traffic this year. We have seen a tremendous uptick in demand for scooters and travel vehicles, so we're focusing on the retail market to boost the provider's cash flow."
Medtrade Spring has become another opportunity for Pride to introduce more products into the marketplace and several new models will be showcased at the Pride and Quantum booths. Among them: the Jazzy 600 Mid-Wheel 6, a new six-wheeled power chair.
Port Washington, N.Y.-based Drive Medical has made Medtrade Spring a focal point of its marketing effort, especially to West Coast providers, said executive vice president Doug Francis. The company recently opened a new Los Angeles distribution facility for its Dr. K line of walkers, beds, bath safety and mobility products. Drive will also be displaying new power chairs, scooters and bariatric products.
One item Drive management hopes will make a big splash among show attendees is the Jaysec Technologies Ideal Ordering System, a hand-held device for communicating with physicians and referral sources.
"With an e-CMN built in, this is a product designed to help providers streamline their billing process," Francis said. "We think that once providers see it in action, there will be a lot of interest in it."
Automation technology is also a featured product at Phoenix-based Vantage Mobility International, where the Appstek Web tool will be demonstrated for showgoers. Appstek is a database that VMI dealers can consult to find the right docking device for each customer. By entering the make and model of the customer's scooter (or chair) and automobile, the program offers its recommendation.
"One thing holding us back was not having an application, but we've spent $300,000 to develop it," said Mark Roberts, VMI vice president of sales and marketing. "We've gradually been launching it and with the help of our dealers, it will ultimately identify every chair and device out there. We've got 10,000 data points entered so far, and want dealers to tell us about the ones that aren't."
In order to give providers some low-price options, Mundelein, Ill.-based Medline Industries will be debuting its economy line of wheelchairs at the show, such as its new Excel 1000 nameplate.
"We're sensitive to the fact that dealers are looking for ways to save costs without cutting quality," said Dave Jacobs, president of Medline's Durable Medical Equipment division. "The Excel 1000 offers a well-constructed chair that functions very well without the bells and whistles."
Education and support programs are a primary thrust at VGM & Associates and the Waterloo, Iowa-based purchasing alliance has put together some seminars and informational booth sessions to help providers get a clearer understanding of the regulatory picture and their business options, said VGM trade show director Krista Miehe. John Gallagher, vice president of government relations and Dave Kazynski, president of Homelink, will give a presentation on national competitive bidding as well as fielding questions at the booth.