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Drive Medical buys DeVilbiss Healthcare

Drive Medical buys DeVilbiss Healthcare The company is strongly financed, aggressive but sensible, and making waves overseas

PORT WASHINGTON, N.Y. - With eight acquisitions in a one-year span, including DeVilbiss Healthcare last week, Drive Medical is unarguably the most active manufacturer in the HME industry right now.

Drive Medical's acquisition of DeVilbiss Healthcare, its largest yet, gives the company a solid platform in the respiratory and sleep markets. Previously, in 2011, it bought Inovo/Chad Therapeutics.

“There are fewer manufacturers out there than when we started and our customer base has a lot on its plate,” said Jeff Schwartz, co-founder and executive vice president of sales. “They want a manufacturer that can not only compete on price but also go deeper into product lines.”

Earlier this year, in April, Drive Medical acquired two companies: U.K.-based Park House Healthcare and Santa Fe Springs, Calif.-based Columbia Medical. Like most of its acquisitions, these allow the manufacturer to round out existing lines, this time in the bed and mobility markets, respectively.

Drive Medical has also made two other acquisitions in the bed and mobility markets (Primus Medical and Specialised Orthotic Services, respectively), as well as acquisitions in the respiratory market (Medquip) and the DME market (Dupont Medical and Days Healthcare).

Strike while it's hot

It sounds clich� by now, but Schwartz says Drive Medical has been bullish about growth—both organically and through acquisitions—because of the increasing demand for home medical equipment.

“I don't want to steal a line from Doug Francis (principal and co-founder) but, 'Competitive bidding isn't going to cure old age,'” he said. “The demand is larger than ever, and we're in a positive situation financially and structurally to go for it.”

Follow the money

It may not have private equity money behind it, but being “strongly financed” has made it possible for Drive Medical to make these deals and position itself for additional deals going forward, Schwartz says.

“We're a company that's aggressive, but at the same time, sensible,” he said. “We're doing it more in a methodical fashion.”

A different Drive

One of the results of Drive Medical's recent buying spree: a larger presence in Europe. Although Schwartz declined to say how much of the manufacturer's business takes place overseas, four of the seven deals it has made in the past year are companies based there.

“We've tried to take our knowledge in the U.S. and spread it to Europe,” he said. “The day-to-day products and reimbursement are different, but the core concepts are really the same. That has allowed us to take a mini-Drive business in Europe and make it a bigger Drive business.”


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