Uncertain economy does not deter Alick’s

Tuesday, December 31, 2002

ELKHART, Ind. - Alick’s Home Medical is responding to the fragile economy with bricks and mortar - specifically, a new $2 million, 33,000-square-foot headquarters.

At the 18-month mark in the two-year construction project, President Nafe Alick remains upbeat about the expansion into neighboring South Bend, despite the specter of national competitive bidding for some Medicare HME items.

“We grew up in Elkhart and we continue to serve the community,” he said. “And while that market is growing, South Bend and St. Joseph County are growing faster. This expansion will allow us to better serve this market as well as offer opportunities for future growth.”

Nonetheless, Alick doesn’t discount the fact that competitive bidding could hinder the company’s activities in the future.

“If it turns out that competitive bidding is not limited by market size, it could certainly affect our plans down the road,” he said. “It will be a drag on the industry, and our company is no exception. It wouldn’t allow us to do all the things we do today.”

Alick’s business grew out of his father’s pharmacy that began in the mid-1960s. In 1983, Alick’s mother got involved in the HME business after helping a woman who needed mobility equipment.

“She started with wheelchairs, walkers and commodes and eventually got into beds,” Alick said. “The business grew because my mother took care of people. Every time someone came in with a new problem, she would investigate the product and then add it to the mix.”

Since the younger Alick joined the company in 1991, the company has quadrupled in size.

He refrained from giving a specific amount, but said revenues are 900% higher since they reached $1 million in the mid-1980s.

Product mix has diversified steadily over the past two decades, Alick said, branching out from traditional DME (50%) into respiratory (30%) and rehab (20%).

Medicare represents 38% of its payer mix, with Medicaid accounting for 15% and the rest coming from private insurance and cash.

In 1999, Alick’s affiliated with St. Joseph Medical Center in South Bend, which necessitated the expansion into the market.

“Rumor had it that because we were a company from a smaller town that we couldn’t furnish the services they needed,” Alick said. “This expansion is our answer.” HME