After speaking to Bernard "Bernie" Glas
, owner of Adam Medical Sales, Inc., Brooklyn, NY, it's easy to see why he's made the DOTmed 100 list of best companies again this year, and is DOTmed Certified to boot.
Glas has survived the ups and downs of the pre-owned medical business cycles for 30 years. He has the discipline and the core instincts of an entrepreneur, so when the market becomes turbulent, he's ready for the storm.
"We're always trying to find new niches, doing things that not too many other people are doing," he says. "So when things are difficult in one area, we turn to another," he says.
What Glas is facing now in the U.S. market--where he sells cardiovascular equipment and an array of other imaging equipment--is a supply-demand imbalance, as a result of the deepening recession.
On one hand, he says, "demand for our spare parts has never been better. Sales have increased so far this year by 40 percent and it's only two months into the year," Meanwhile, he's been told that OEM sales are down 30 to 50 percent.
But supplies have recently become so tight as more and more customers want medical gear at bargain prices, that Glas can no longer meet demand. And even though he often gets "first call" when equipment is available, his hands are tied these days.
Turbulence to Silver Lining
One thing Glas has learned in this business is that turbulence spells opportunity. Since there's a dearth of medical equipment in the U.S., he's made two strategic moves: One, he has entered the oncology business, where "unfortunately people can't wait until the economy gets better to buy the equipment they need," he says. And two, he's "turning East" to Outer Mongolia, a parliamentary democracy, where he is shipping equipment to hospitals and clinics and forming joint ventures with these institutions.
Oncology, an Urgent Arena
In the oncology arena, radiologists who run imaging centers would never have bought second-hand equipment in the past, Glas says. Now, they realize there is plenty of near-pristine equipment on the market that is easier to finance.
Glas has begun selling radiologists Large Bore CT simulators, systems that first took off in 2000 and became available to refurbishers about two years ago. He says the CT simulator locates the tumor, feeds the data to a radiation-planning program, which then feeds the information to the linear accelerator. The accelerator homes in on the tumor and bombards it with photons.
"Each sale takes a lot of effort but the effort pays off," he says. "We're dealing in retail sales where we have to work with engineers and contractors. We're doing critical, detailed work." (Glas would not disclose sales figures.)
Meanwhile, his other strategy--to zoom in on the Far Eastern market--is also working. "I've noticed that my business from the Far East has increased, especially from China," he says. "I was in China about a month ago and am going back in another three weeks. I've noticed their economy seems to be doing quite well." Glas has had customers in China for more than 20 years and despite severe import regulations, has managed to grow his business there. At least in some parts of China, business is booming, he says.
(It's been widely reported in the business press that the Chinese government implemented a stimulus plan about a year ago, encouraging new businesses.)
Hiring the Right People
Another thing that Glas knows is that hiring the right people--who know what they need to do without being managed--is key to success, especially during difficult times.
While his son Josh runs the parts department and son Danny runs the office, Glas is most excited about his newest hire, Aytac Mavruk, who immigrated to the U.S. from Turkey. "He's a young man in his twenties who's been with us for about four months and I can already see the impact," Glas says.
"In all, Glas says "we have a total of 12 full-time employees in our 23,000 square-foot warehouse. Others we use per diem. We have engineers who deinstall and refurbish equipment and employees who crate equipment for oversees."
When asked how he got started in the business of pre-owned medical equipment, he jokes, "through the school of hard knocks. I've been through the ups and downs of countless business cycles but have always remained."