Questions follow Trowbridge to wholesale market

Saturday, July 31, 2004

YARMOUTH, Maine - The arrival of industry power-player Keith Trowbridge at Respiratory Distributors generated chatter in June from industry players trying to size up the new game in town.

Trowbridge, who found success as president of Liberty Medical Supply, took over as RDI’s president and CEO in mid June, replacing Marty McLantoc, who had held the position since May 2001 (See related story on page 1).

Speculation surrounding the move centered on the possibility of a direct-to-consumer play for RDI since Liberty is the largest direct-to-consumer supplies provider in the country.

“[Trowbridge] is coming from a background where you make $200 per patient monthly into a market where you make $1.20 per patient. No, you don’t pay a big salary on that margin,” said an industry insider. “You don’t hire this guy unless you go direct to consumer, and what better time to do it.”

Others in the industry say Trowbridge could invigorate things at RDI. At Liberty, he launched a comprehensive marketing campaign to consumers and also created Liberty Home Pharmacy, a supplier of inhalation medications direct to consumers.

“Here’s a guy who has been successful in one part of the business, and there is no reason he can’t be successful in this part,” said Joseph Sansone, president and CEO of Pediatric Services of America, an RDI customer.

Trowbridge, however, said in an interview with HME News that RDI had no plans to stray from its core distribution business.

“I think we’ll take a fresh look at how we sell to and marker our product line to the independent and homecare pharmacies,” he said. “Hopefully I’ll bring a little bit of that wisdom from the direct to consumer side to the wholesale side.”