Travel 02 service takes flight

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

CONCORD, Calif. - As people prepare for summer vacations, Mike Kuller hopes his travel oxygen service really takes flight this year.
All Star Oxygen Services began renting portable oxygen concentrators (POCs) last summer. This year, the company is ramping up efforts to promote the service, including advertising in newspapers and revamping its Web site.
"Cash business these days is not really that easy to find and this seems like a good opportunity," said Kuller, company president. "Two summers ago we didn't even carry these and now we have rental stock."
In July 2006, the Federal Aviation Administration issued a rule allowing-but not mandating-airlines allow patients to travel with POCs. All Star stocks several POC models for customers to choose from. The units are available on a weekly rental basis with a one-week minimum. Patients of All Star get a discount on the rental fee. The company sold a half-dozen of the machines last year.
"They love them," said Kuller. "If people travel enough, they come back and buy them."
Most customers take them on airplanes, but the portable units work well for cruises and automobile travel, as well, said Kuller.
So far, the only problem encountered has been a battery failure, remedied by an overnighted replacement battery, said Kuller.
All Star's product mix is evenly split between oxygen and CPAP-about 45% each, with DME contributing the remaining 10%. The company uses transfill units as its primary modality. With Concord included in Round 2 of national competitive bidding, Kuller is keeping his options open.
"If we don't get the bid, or even if we do, we have to continue to diversify," he said. HME