Southern Home Medical runs with fitness niche

Saturday, March 31, 2007

SPARTANBURG, S.C. - Southern Home Medical Equipment purchased a second health club in Greenville, S.C., Feb. 12, as the company moves aggressively into the women's fitness market. The club, Fast Track Fitness, will be renamed Ladies Health & Fitness USA.
Southern Home Medical acquired the original Ladies Health & Fitness in January, and it plans to franchise the concept in metropolitan areas throughout the Southeast. It announced in February and March that it's in negotiations to franchise 50 clubs in the Mobile/Pensacola, Fla., market and 40 clubs in the Charleston, S.C., market, respectively.
Greg Tucker, Southern Home Medical's chief executive, said the new franchises will be similar to many of the major competitors in the industry, including Curves, only with a wider array of equipment and work stations.
Southern Home Medical, a provider of homecare services and products, including respiratory and durable medical equipment, has created a separate division known as Encore to manage its health- and wellness-related business interests. Jeff Sarvis was named vice president of the division Feb. 22.
"Encore gives us the opportunity to take advantage of any and all interesting business models that fit within the health and wellness arena," Tucker said.
He said that each fitness club would also serve as a retail outlet for private-label products, such as vitamins and supplements.
"Each time we open a new location," he said, "it creates a distribution channel."
In other company news, Southern Home Medical signed an agreement March 5 to buy Wheelchairs Plus in Jacksonville, Fla. Last year, Wheelchairs Plus earned $917,000 in revenues.