State of Grace

Thursday, December 17, 2009

GULFPORT, Miss. – When he started Grace Healthcare back in 2001, David Wolf tried to build a home respiratory business. That’s where the money was, but he found out fast that existing providers had that market sewn up.  So he started supplying equipment to nursing homes and hospice, and going after other low-margin business that most providers at that time didn’t want. Along the way to growing his business to $6 million in annual sales, Wolf learned something: “Business doesn’t have to be the most profitable. It can just be solid.”

HME News: How did you get into the HME business?

David Wolf: I was cleaning hospitals. I had 140 employees. Then I got married and had three children and the cleaning business was at night, and I needed to figure out how to do something during the day. I started buying (used) hospital equipment and selling it to other hospitals. Then I met a guy who had been in the DME business and knew billing.

HME: Other than pursuing business that no one else wanted, how did you grow Grace Healthcare?

Wolf: The thing I did that was probably most unique was five and a half years ago I opened a clinical laboratory and attached it to my DME. So if I’ve got a diabetic patient that comes in to get blood drawn, they walk through the DME to get to the lab. On the way out, they may look at diabetic shoes, get their strips and lancets, and probably look at a power chair.

HME: So the lab drives business for your HME.

Wolf: Absolutely. Doctors refer their DME to me because we do such a good job on their lab work. It gives me credibility, too.

HME: You recently started a business disposing of medical waste. What triggered that idea?

Wolf: We discovered the doctors’ offices we call on were getting charged ridiculous prices for their medical waste to be picked up. I found an alternative, contracted with a local hospital, and now we’re picking up their medical waste for 50 cents on the dollar.

HME: How do you see the HME industry unfolding over the next few years?

Wolf: It’ll be fine, but you have to change. AT&T stands for American Telephone & Telegraph. If they had stayed in the telegraph business, we’d never have heard of them.