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A Big Welcome to VGM and AHIA Members

Posted on in Membership, AHIA News

By Steve Dawson, CEO, Harmar

Hello to all VGM members. My name is Steve Dawson, and I am the new CEO of Harmar as of December. Harmar is a proud supplier to and member of the VGM network, and I look forward to meeting you at VGM’s Heartland Conference in June.

If you don’t know Harmar, what we do is simple. We make lifts. Lots of them. Auto lifts, stair lifts, vertical platform lifts, cargo lifts, inclined lifts, pool lifts, and others. I am having a lot of fun in this new industry. I come most recently from a building products company which, like Harmar, manufactures and distributes products through a dealer channel. We also earn our customers one at a time. The key difference between the two industries, though, is simple but important. Harmar and its customers have the ability to change lives meaningfully. From the veteran being able to sleep in his second floor bedroom, to the grandmother who can now bring her 400-pound power chair with her when she goes to visit family. It feels good to help people!

Industry Numbers Point Upward

I was also attracted to this industry as it has very robust growth drivers supporting it. DME expenditures are expected to grow at a 5.3% annual rate through 2020. That is very strong growth! We are also getting older. The 65 and older population is expected to grow 111% between 2010 and 2050. And, unfortunately, we are getting bigger, too! Obesity affects 25% of the U.S. population. Wow, with all these demographics, why isn’t everyone in our industry smiling? 

The answers, of course, are the seismic shifts occurring at the federal government level with reimbursements, new rules, and procedures. The old ways of doing business are being challenged. The government’s competitive bidding processes have driven down margins, with more likely to come. The Kingdomware Technologies’ Supreme Court ruling around the “rule of two” threatens to upend the mobility and access dealer space that has thrived on serving the VA. Large and small businesses alike that were built around supporting the VA are questioning their futures. No one knows what’s next, and its driving folks crazy. Will we survive? What is the right move?

Somebody’s Going to Make Money

I may be pretty new to this industry, but the one thing we can count on is that someone will make money in all this. They always do. Remember the part up above about spending increasing 5.3% per year? The successful entrepreneurs come into a market that is being disrupted and find a way to make money. So, let’s make sure that is us. One part of our destiny that we can control is our effort and focus. It’s time to go out and put some effort into finding new business sources. Let’s focus on expanding our networks and referral sources. That is what we are doing at Harmar, and we encourage you to do it, too. As one example, we listened to our HME/DME customer base and their struggles to find skilled installers. Many small shops can’t be bothered with small volume equipment sales. Our answer? We will find the installer for you. This allows our dealers to keep the sale, without the hassle of handling the install. It’s a win-win for Harmar and its customers.

You can find new ways to broaden your own horizons, too. Our fastest growing dealers are finding new referral networks and sources for leads. New opportunities for cash-pay sales. Some are exploring working with third party networks and workers’ comp opportunities. Others are focused on the commercial markets for ramps, vertical platform lift,s and accessibility modifications. The consistent theme is they are getting away from 100% reliance on the government. None of these will be overnight successes. You will need to invest time and resources. Not all will be winners, either. However, we can’t just wait for Uncle Sam to figure it all out. Let’s work together to capitalize on this amazing opportunity we have.

Before someone else does it first.