Selinger plugs back in

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Monday, June 30, 2003

ATLANTA - Free of bankruptcy, free of debt, free of liens, and reportedly flush with cash, Graham-Field Health Products is launching yet another comeback, this time with a resurgent Irwin Selinger as CEO.

Selinger, whose 1984 – 1998 tenure at Graham-Field paralleled the company’s rise from a regional medical supplies distributor to a major HME manufacturer, comes not without some baggage. He is still under indictment by the Justice Department for conspiracy and securities fraud (See HME News, 12/2002) - charges he denies.

“I can’t speak for the government, but my attorneys have made it absolutely clear - and the bondholders feel the same way - that the charges are just not valid,” said Selinger. “I don’t know how else to put it.”

In the meantime, and since May 1 when the bondholders and Selinger bought G-F at auction for $28 million, the new CEO is focused on making the kind of comeback that G-F’s been talking about for several years.

Soon, the company will roll out the vanguard of what it calls a suite of new products - the Vista II wheelchair. By January, G-F plans to have implemented a new $750,000 IT system that Selinger touts as “the system of 2010.” And G-F has reacquired the production facility in Jakarta, Indonesia, that manufactures its Everest & Jennings wheelchairs.

G-F’s financial picture, according to the CEO, is rosy.

“We have $15 million of cash available,” said Selinger. “I won’t say we have unlimited availability. Nobody has that. But if we perform, we have close to unlimited availability.”

Much of the company’s financial promise can be traced back to the primary investor in G-F, a prominent New York businessman named Moses Marx.

In addition to Selinger, the new G-F will be managed by Mike Norby in sales and marketing, and Don Campopiano in manufacturing and distribution. Norby was a regional sales manager at Lumex years ago, and Compotiano worked at Invacare for a number of years.

Mike Joffred, who ran G-F as CEO for the past couple of years, was not offered a position in the new company.

Today, G-F is a much smaller version of its former self. Last year’s revenues ran to about $80 million while in its hey-day the company was doing more than $400 million per year.

Roughly half of G-F’s current business is in HME. About a quarter of the business is in long-term care. Fifteen percent is in med-surg, and rehab accounts for about 5%.

Claiming a larger share of the industry’s HME business will be a challenge for G-F, said Alan Landauer, CEO of Landauer Metropolitan, an HME in Mount Vernon, N.Y.

“The field is getting more and more crowded with Drive, with Merit, with Medline - they’re all getting the same stuff,” said Landauer. “He’s got a tough climb right now.” HME

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