Selinger turns GF over to new CEO

Sunday, December 31, 2006

ATLANTA - It's been quite a ride for Beatrice Scherer. She began working at Graham-Field in 1958 as an accounts receivable reconciliation clerk, worked her way up through the ranks and became CEO this fall. Scherer, 68, replaces Irwin Selinger, 66, who a judge sentenced to 18 months in prison last fall for securities fraud (HME News June 2005).
Initially, it looked like Selinger might avoid prison and do his time in a half way house where he could continue to work at Graham-Field as an advisor. In November, however, a judge denied that request, and Selinger began serving his sentence in Gessup, Ga. HME News talked to Selinger and Scherer in early November about Graham-Field. Here's what the two had to say.
HME News: Were you surprised to be named CEO: Was this a planned transition?
Scherer: I was surprised only because I truly never expected Irwin's outcome. Of course we had planned this transition since Irwin's legal issued started, and we have since put in place an organization that could respond and adapt to both internal and external changes.
HME News: Graham-Field emerged from Chapter 11 bankruptcy in 2003. How is the company performing?
Selinger: Let's just say we are running well over $100 million (annually). Our fiscal year began May 1, and we just finished six months. We had record sales, up just about 40%. Our homecare sales are up more than 102%.
HME: What percentage of your business is home care?
Selinger: Home care for the last quarter was about 40% of our business; 40% was long-term care; and about 20% was medical. Home care is the fastest growing segment.
HME: Invacare's third quarter sales declined 4%. Why are you growing so fast?
Selinger: I think the major difference is that we have been sourcing from China longer. Also, we have entered new product lines, particularly in the respiratory business. We were almost non-existent in nebulizers, and today we have more than eight in our line and are growing rapidly. We introduced a concentrator in May, and it is already our No. 2 selling SKU. So for us, it is add-on business, and for them it is losing share.
Scherer: We will be looking into a CPAP unit to complement our line of respiratory products.
HME: How much of your product is made in Asia?
Selinger: I would say about 65%.
HME: What is the image you want G-F to project to the market place?
Scherer: We want to be considered the best alternative for low cost, high quality products. While we are a manufacturer and distributor of thousands of healthcare products, it is our service experience that will differentiate us from our competitors. Over the past three years we have invested millions of dollars in our infrastructure to support our various customer bases. Our Web site, for example, allows for total e-commerce. Customers can check inventory, see real-time order status and place orders 24/7. We have an order fill rate of 99%, we ship on time and we invoice correctly. Although many of our products are looked upon as "commodities," service can easily differentiate one company from another, and this is our focus and will be moving forward.