VGM, Essentially Women join forces

It’s a win-win for the two organizations, says new President Christa Miehe
Friday, January 15, 2016

WATERLOO, Iowa – A group of providers who specialize in women’s health products and services is right up The VGM Group’s alley, says Christa Miehe.

VGM announced Dec. 31 that it has bought Oxford, Mich.-based Essentially Women, a member services organization with more than 500 members in 1,000 locations.

“These are independent providers looking for help, so they can spend the bulk of their time taking care of their patients,” said Miehe, a 13-year veteran of VGM who has become president of Essentially Women. “That’s the historical framework for all of our programs here at VGM.

“At the same time,” she added, “it’s a specialty market that hasn’t been on VGM’s radar.”

Essentially Woman will remain a stand-alone company, much like U.S. Rehab and the Orthotic Prosthetic Group of America, with Cindy Ciardo managing vendor relations and Melinda Smith managing membership services. It will receive operational support from VGM’s Waterloo, Iowa, headquarters.

The deal is a win-win for both VGM and Essentially Women, Miehe says. In a consolidating HME industry, Essentially Women represents a potential new revenue source for VGM, she says.

“There are some EW members that are also members of VGM, U.S. Rehab or OPGA already, but that number is low,” she said. “The potential for new business for VGM companies is very high.”

For Essentially Women, it gives members access to a broader array of services, says Ciardo.

“We feel both members and vendors will greatly profit from the already established resources VGM brings to the table,” she said. “To mention only a few:  legislative action, the Homelink network for potential referrals, and the educational resources for CEUs.”

The sale to VGM came at a crossroads for Essentially Women, which was founded by nine businesswomen, some of whom have since retired or exited the industry, Ciardo says.

“The work was more than we could handle to the degree that was necessary for the continued growth and member/vendor benefit,” she said. “It became increasingly apparent that we needed to make a strategic decision to hire more people to promote the growth and future success of EW, or consider acquisition by a company already positioned to do everything EW needed.”

Essentially Women’s popular “Focus on the Future” event will remain an annual affair, though it’s moving to the fall, Miehe says.

“They will continue to have some unique and individual pieces and programs,” she said.