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Reporter’s notebook: Two years in, providers ‘rocking and rolling’ 

Reporter’s notebook: Two years in, providers ‘rocking and rolling’ 

Despite that ongoing trifecta of business challenges – pandemic, labor shortage, supply chain – HME providers say they are adapting to those challenges and seeing growth as a result. 

Provider Erik Mickelson in March opened his fifth retail location, in Richland, Wash., in a “sweet location” two blocks from the largest hospital in a tri-city region. 

“We finally have inventory and we’re doing awesome,” said Mickelson, CEO of Yakima-based Howard’s Medical.  

To make that all happen, Howard’s Medical has adapted how it does business on everything from ordering inventory to taking care of customers, Mickelson says. 

“OK, so Drive Medical takes so many weeks, Dynarex, McKesson – we have all sorts of internal graphs and then we make predictions (on when orders will come in),” he said. “We utilize mobile delivery, drop shipping, every trick in the bag to take care of customers. We are honest with customers, and they see it everywhere. We’re rocking and rolling.” 

Provider Craig Rae, who does a lot of repair work for Veterans Affairs, says business is busy, but it’s difficult to hire employees. 

“I’ve been trying to hire a new tech for six months,” said Rae, owner of Penrod Medical Equipment in Salisbury, N.C. “We’ve had three applications. It’s frustrating, but we’re just doing the best we can.” 

Provider Katie Stevens is also seeing growth for Minneapolis-based Reliable Medical, which recently partnered with ATC Medical, an internet-based, multi-channel distributor of medical, surgical and therapy supplies in Germantown, Tenn. (see related story).  It’s part of a larger trend of companies seeking unique partnerships, she says. 

“(Everyone is) looking for a way to weather the storm and looking for the benefit of scale,” she said. “It’s reaching a point right now where there’s more demand from those folks looking for home (services). How can we use that?”


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