WICHITA FALLS, TX – Don Dobbins may not be a youngster, but his outlook reflects a modern approach to the HME business. As the president/co-founder of Heritage HME, with two locations in the lone star state (Wichita Falls and Graham), the 56-year-old Dobbins has meticulously built a business that increasingly relies less on Medicare.
“The rural rollout [of competitive bidding] does not keep me up at night, because I have worked to get us more retail-oriented, and that seems to be the future of our business,” he says. “It’s harder and harder for us to get people qualified [Medicare] and get the equipment to patients and get paid. As a result, we are gearing ourselves more toward that retail side. We will continue to do insurance.”
While competitive bidding has not come to the north Texas region where Heritage makes its home, Dobbins is keen to support his Texas state association and the American Association for Homecare. “The state association and AAHomecare are out there advocating for us,” he says. “I don’t have time to do it, so they are out there for all of us. This new bill in the Senate [S. 2312] is something that they really pushed hard for us as an industry, and I see the worth in investing in AAHomecare.”
Both of Dobbins’ shops are about 5,000 square feet, with approximately 1,800 given over to retail space. In a town with three Walmart Supercenters, the philosophy at Heritage has stayed simple, but effective.
“Our philosophy is to find the items that people are looking for and are not finding elsewhere,” explains Dobbins. “People stay with us because of the customer service. Let’s take a bathroom safety product as an example. Customers go into a Walmart and they see a bathroom chair, but they don’t know if that’s the one they want. They call us, and our pricing is competitive. We will give them some options, and I have three different options.”
Dobbins plans to keep up on the latest product innovations with a visit to Medtrade Spring in Las Vegas, held this year from Feb 29-March 2, 2016, at the Mandalay Bay Convention Center. “If HME providers want to stay in business, it’s essential that they come to Medtrade and Medtrade Spring,” he enthuses. “The primary reason I’m at Medtrade is education, primarily the sessions that deal with retail and the new regulations. I also love to see the new products on the show floor.”