Provider forms uplifting alliance

Sunday, August 31, 2008

WESTMINSTER, Colo.--A home medical equipment provider and a home repair and renovation franchise have tapped into the aging in place trend by teaming up to provide stair lifts to homeowners nationwide.

“More and more people want to stay in their homes,” said Pam Pressel, CEO of Capabilities, which partnered with Handyman Matters in July. “They step back and they do the math and say, ‘Gee, I could put in a stair lift for $3,500 vs. $8,000 a month at some facility.’”

Capabilities has been installing stair lifts in Colorado for some time, thanks to training from Sterling Stairlift, a Mount Pocono, Pa.-based manufacturer. The provider even features them on its Web site.

When calls started coming in from consumers around the country, however, Capabilities hatched a plan to partner with Handyman, a company with 110 franchises nationwide, instead of referring callers to other providers. Capabilities had worked with Handyman before, sending local franchises home modification jobs.

Now, as a result of the new partnership, Sterling trains Handyman franchises to install stair lifts; Capabilities provides the lifts; and Handyman installs them.

The partnership, as well as its e-commerce Web site, will help Capabilities establish a national presence ahead of its physical expansion into other states, company officials say.

“We’re three years old, but we’re still a smaller business,” said Katherine Arbour, president of Capabilities. “We’re obviously going to build our strength.”

Both Capabilities and Handyman hope installing stair lifts leads to other business. Customers who buy lifts often have other repairs or remodels they want done, said Andy Bell, director of commercial sales for Handyman. That’s why Capabilities will offer package deals for customers who need to modify several areas of their homes.

Industry consultants like Jack Evans say providers are increasingly offering products like stair lifts to boost cash sales.