Vince Crew's parting words for the HME industry


Vince Crew, a familiar and friendly face at HME conferences for 15 years, has decided to take his consulting company, Reach Development, in a new direction by working with other healthcare companies like hospitals. Here’s what Crew had to say in an “exit interview” with HME News this week.

HME News: What’s one thing that you have witnessed in the HME industry in the past 15 years that sticks out in your mind?

Vince Crew: It’s the only industry I know of that, the better they’ve gotten, the less money they make. There have been more and more demands on HME providers to raise the bar—get accredited, make more investments, get leaner, do more strategic planning, hire better, deliver better service. Do all of that and, by the way, you’re going to make less money and your cash flow is going to stink. It’s just so sad.

HME: It’s been a struggle for providers.

Crew: It has. But is there a future? Yeah, there are good days ahead. Every industry has gone through this—the automakers, the banks.

HME: Where should providers be focusing their attention to get through it all?

Crew: My mentor, Shelly Prial, the godfather of HME, was preaching about retail sales 15 years ago. The future is retail sales. The future is collaboration with others to get some synergies going, whether that’s working with other providers with tangential services or looking at M&A. The future is no longer, “I’m an independent and proud of it.” The days of being a lone wolf are gone.

HME: Where has the HME industry made the biggest strides in the past 15 years?

Crew: I’ve seen HME providers become better business people. Accreditation was just a thorn in the side of so many providers and yet it was all about bringing solid business, strategic, operational and ethical stuff into companies that needed it. Sure, a lot of providers were delivering those things already, but it still raised the bar.

HME: In what kind of state do you leave the HME industry?

Crew: One of the best things that has happened to me at every HME conference I’ve ever spoken at: I see all these young people in the crowd. You know, the industry isn’t in trouble as long as you see those young people in the crowd. We just need to find better business models to give these young people a chance to come in and do what they want to do, which is to help people stay in their homes.

Liz Beaulieu