Tuesday, September 30, 2003

ORLANDO, Fla. - Former Rotech President Steve Griggs and his new HME roll-up appear to be adding locations right and left, frequently staffing them with former Rotech managers.

“It’s a great strategy,” said Dexter Braff, president of The Braff Group, an M&A firm. “It is not uncommon for people after they get through their non-competes to get back into the business. When they do, they find that the relationships that they had are not that difficult to re-establish. So when they are opening up a market, it’s not really opening up a market from scratch.”

AeroCare, which lined up venture capital backing last fall, now operates about 60 locations.

“He seems to have deep pockets,” an AeroCare manager told HME News.

Over the summer, the roll-up opened two locations in Missouri (Macon and Memphis) and planned to open another in Springfield last month. The company already operates locations in Kirksville and Waynesville, Mo. Ken Rethmeier, who sold his company, Home Care Medical Equipment, to Rotech in 1995, will run the Memphis branch.

AeroCare also plans to open a new branch in Lafayette, Colo., with another ex-Rotech manager. The company now operates 15 Colorado locations. AeroCare has another branch in the start-up phase in Pennsylvania, where it will join two existing branches, all run by a former Rotech manager.

Griggs didn’t return a phone call.

Two AeroCare managers, both of them ex-Rotech employees, said working with Griggs feels a little like the heady days of a decade ago, when Griggs and Rotech founder, Bill Kennedy, were rolling up 500+ locations.

“It is like Rotech was back in 1996,” said an AeroCare manager. “I look forward to coming to work - at least right now. Who knows, in a year or two if it keeps on growing and reaches what Rotech is right now, it might all change.”

Aerocare gives some of the managers it hires an ownership position in the branches they run.

“That’s is important because it gives you some feeling of ownership in what you are trying to build,” said an AeroCare manager.