AWP does it all: distribute, manufacture, deal product

Monday, December 31, 2001

FRESNO, Calif. - After several years of focusing on its OEM business, American Wheelchair Products is jumping back into the distribution of manual wheelchair parts with both feet.

But that's not all: AWP's just released a new bariatric chair and has begun accepting Medicare assignment at its $500,000 Fresno DME.

AWP's new 22-page catalog will be mailed out this month to about 800 HMEs and will include several hundred items; among them: wheels, rims, wheel assemblies, push rings, castors, hubs and forks.

"From a lot of guys I met at Medtrade - dealers and repair guys - when I told them what we were doing, they were excited because they are limited in who they can buy parts from, and the are spending too much money on the parts they are getting," said Steve Groninger, vice president of sales and marketing.

The company's also hooked into the growing market for bariatric products and has just released a bariatric wheelchair, the BT Cruiser, which has a weight capacity of 900 lbs. AWP makes manual wheelchairs for other manufacturers; the BT Cruiser is the first chair to be sold under its own name and the first of a planned line of bariatric chairs, Groninger said.

Finally, AWP's Fresno DME, The Wheelchair Connection, had its best month ever in October and in last spring began accepting Medicare assignment. Prior to that, the company keyed on cash sales, private insurance and workers comp cases. But with the demise of MK Medical in Fresno, which previously did a sizeable rehab business, "we say an opportunity," Groninger said.

"There's a big gap and clients who need to be provided equipment who can get it," he said. HME