NEWPORT BEACH, CA – Who do you look up to in the HME industry? For me, the list is long but my go-to crew for business advice is much shorter and especially dear to my heart.
More than a decade ago, a handful of HME business leaders stepped in to help me as a then-much-younger professional. These industry experts have continually guided me through bigger and better experiences over the course of my career. Their kindness is a primary reason why I pay it forward for other professionals too.
As you learn more about these selfless mentors below, please use their examples as your encouragement to invest in emerging talent. Help us develop the next generation of HME leaders, and connect with some of our rising stars too.
My HME Journey Began With Jo-Ellen Reed
If you’ve ever placed an ad in HME News, you’ve surely met Jo-Ellen Reed. Jo-Ellen partners with HME service providers to ensure her readers have the latest resources at their fingertips. She also has an eagle eye for recognizing new talent.
In 2008, I was a newbie in the HME world when Jo visited my SIGVARIS office in Peachtree City, GA. Excited to chat about print ads, she blinked when I switched gears to share concepts from the world of digital.
Eleven years ago, the ideas of text messaging consumers or generating business leads via social media were foreign concepts to most in HME. Thankfully, I had already mastered these tactics in my former dot-com career. Recognizing the industry education gap, Jo-Ellen invited me to author a Smart Talk series in her magazine, followed by an invitation to speak at the HME Business Summit in 2009.
Jo didn’t just put me on the HME map. She put me on the very stage that launched my speaking and consulting career, and she never asked for anything in return. She’s a silent HME hero, and my success story is only one of many in which Jo-Ellen has served as a quiet force behind.
Chances Are Doug Harper Knows Your Birthday
When you first meet Doug Harper, you immediately realize how considerate he is although he’s one of the busiest HME executives in the industry. Despite his demanding schedule, Doug always makes time for my questions. Even more astounding, he remembers my birthday every year along with the birthdays of hundreds of industry peers and partners.
Do you know another HME executive who celebrates special moments, treating everyone like a star, in the way that Doug Harper does? He’s a rare example of service in action.
Over the years, Doug has helped me carve a path in the face of unexpected business changes and unforeseen disappointments. He encouraged me to create my second business, Get Social Consulting, and introduced me to prospective buyers for my third business, Wheel:Life magazine.
Along the way, Doug asked me to assist a fresh-faced ISG intern who he had recently hired. I invited that young professional to join me for the first time on Medtrade’s stage, just like Jo-Ellen did for me.
Today, you’ll recognize Justin Racine as a digital marketing expert who speaks at e-commerce events worldwide and serves as the Director of Marketing & E-Commerce for Geriatric Medical and Surgical Supply. Justin pays it forward by teaching at his alma mater on a regular basis.
I’ll never forget the incredible feeling of watching Justin’s star take off thanks to Doug’s faith in his potential. I’m 100% sure Doug remembers Justin’s birthday too.
Rick Glass, The Honey Badger Of HME
Oh, the sarcastic joy that is Rick Glass! For the first six years of our friendship, Rick’s ever-ruffled hair was always accompanied by a lit cigarette and a slightly cold cup of coffee. He never fails to make me laugh with one of his hallmark greetings, “Hey Kid!”
Before he retired earlier this year, Rick served as President of Steven Richards & Associates. Over the past 20 years, he negotiated the sale of more than $500 million worth of independent HME businesses. When the opportunity arose to sell Wheel:Life in 2016, Rick was the first person I called.
That’s because Rick took the time to help me during my first industry speaking opportunity seven years prior. As I was preparing to walk on stage in front of hundreds of business leaders, Rick noticed I was more than a little green around the gills. Truth be told, I was petrified.
Rick made me laugh until I found my wits again. I returned home from the conference as their highest ranked speaker that year, but even better, I had a new friend and mentor.
There’s no one I would rather have had fight for the sale of my business, and there’s no way I could have successfully sold Wheel:Life without Rick’s patience and guidance.
Paying It Forward With John Anderson
Are you starting to realize how many roads overlap in HME? I often joke that our industry is one big high school — we all know each other and will wind up working together eventually. That’s one of the reasons why I’m such a big proponent of teaching and training industry talent.
That said, not even the stars aligning could have prepared me for the amazing opportunities that John Anderson has helped me pursue. We met more than a decade ago while I ran marketing for UroMed. John visited our office as the leader of a growing start-up that you’ll recognize today as Cure Medical.
I knew back then that Cure didn’t have as many resources as other catheter manufacturers, but John always found time to help us improve as a sales partner. So when I decided to create not one but two companies, simultaneously, I was hopeful that John would support my effort.
In a tiny conference room, I pitched an idea of a social community for wheelchair users to him. After I fumbled through my nervous speech, John smiled and asked, “How much do you need?”
John’s initial donation funded the launch of Wheel:Life magazine. He didn’t donate because he thought I could repay him. (I couldn’t.) He simply wanted to help a young professional succeed in creating their own business, like he had. So when I was fortunate enough to sell Wheel:Life in 2016, my next career step was intentional.
It’s an honor to serve the HME community today as the Vice President of Marketing for Cure Medical, working alongside John on his team.
Like Doug, John leads through the way that he serves. He celebrates small wins knowing they lead to big wins, and every person plus their opinion has value in John’s eyes. He gives our team hope every day as Cure Medical’s CEO and I know firsthand how that kind of hope can create a wildly successful business.
Rising HME Stars You Should Connect With
While travelling the country leading events for the CURE NATION, I’ve been extremely fortunate to meet so many emerging stars in our field. Would you take a moment to connect with some of my best and brightest friends below?
So many of you would benefit, and your business would too, by uplifting these young professionals who strive to serve and learn.
Scott Stone joined me on stage for the first time at this year’s Medtrade Spring. Trained as an engineer, Scott has a unique talent for marketing and photography that allowed him to fuel the viral social media popularity of another start-up, OBI Robot. Now serving the HME community as a digital marketing consultant, he assists a variety of clients in different product categories. He’s based in Dayton, OH. Connect with Scott via LinkedIn.
Scott’s partner Caitlin Patrick might be newer to the HME world, but her heart for serving others has shortened her learning curve tremendously. A naturally-gifted creative writer, Caitlin is developing her industry experience by working at Abilities Expo events nationwide. I’m thrilled to introduce such a quality person to all of you.
Transverse Myelitis stole Andrea Dalzell’s ability to walk when she was a child, but it left her with an unparalleled drive and passion for healthcare. Andrea is the first person who uses a wheelchair to become a registered nurse in the New York metro area. She also serves as a spokesperson for the Apple watch due to its’ fitness features for wheelchair users. A natural public speaker, this clinical expert uses HME products on a daily basis. Reach Andrea on LinkedIn.
Kristina Rhoades isn’t new to our community. She’s been an HME customer since she was a baby after she was paralyzed due to domestic violence. Rising up through education and hard work, Kristina has served in a variety of roles within the accessible vehicle space. Today she works from home in New Mexico as a marketer and coach while home-schooling her daughter. Kristina, hands down, is one of the most talented, gifted writers I have ever met. Connect with her via LinkedIn.
Chris Collin began his HME journey when we created Cure’s customer advocate team two years ago. A motorcycle accident left Chris with a spinal cord injury but it also served as a catalyst for his life goals and athletic pursuits. Chris actively volunteers in his local community while working a part-time job in Maine, and he travels the country with me as his other part-time job. Together, we host peer counseling events at rehab hospitals nationwide. Chris is one of the most popular and polished consumer advocates on the Abilities Expo show circuit and I know this is just the beginning of his lengthy, star-studded healthcare career.
Be Hopeful For The HME Industry
If this mentoring conversation encouraged you, congratulations! You got the point. The resounding theme of my own HME journey hasn’t been personal advancement. It’s about hope for a better future thanks to peers who want to help.
That’s something everyone could use a little more of, don’t you think? If you’d like to create hope, mentor an HME professional who needs your guidance. Pick someone out of the crowd who’s trying. Put them on the Medtrade stage with you. Give them a chance to shine. Dust them off when they fall down and help them begin again.
I’m eternally thankful for the people who did this for me, time and time again, as my HME mentors taught me the difference between being a leader and being legendary.
Lift others up. Lead with hope. When you do, you’ll be legendary too!
Lisa Wells is vice-president of marketing for intermittent catheter manufacturer Cure Medical. She has authored four books for the disability and homecare industry. She mentors HME marketing professionals and teaches at health care and disability conferences nationwide. Connect with her on LinkedIn or via email: firstname.lastname@example.org.