California HME tells his story, newspaper loves it

Friday, May 31, 2002

CONCORD, Calif. - Cliff Woolard hit a marketing home run in April.

The general manager pitched to the local newspaper, the Contra Costa Times, that it's no easy trick to survive 20 years in the HME business when faced with near billion-dollar competitors like Apria and Lincare. The reporter who writes "Entrepreneurs Edge," a weekly feature on local small businesses, agreed.

Since the feature ran April 20, Home Med-Equip has been inundated with calls, just as Woolard had hoped.

"People call, saying, 'My mother is on oxygen from this other company, and it sounds like you have this kind of program. Could we try you?'" Woolard said.

That kind of response doesn't surprise Colette Weil, managing director of Summit Marketing in Mill Valley, Calif.

"One piece of press like that is incredible," Weil said. "You have an opportunity to tell your story. When people see it in the press, it validates you as a community member in what you do."

Woolard's father started the business in 1979 and incorporated it in 1982. The company now operates five trucks and covers four counties. Woolard takes pride in the company's service component, which he says helps Home Med-Equip compete with the nationals. For example, Home Med-Equip overstocks all its trucks so drivers can respond quickly to an order rather than returning to the warehouse to retrieve a product. The company also trains its drivers to show customers how to use the most basic kind of equipment.

As Woolard said in the Times story: "It's all about service, and this just adds to our ability to better help our customers." HME