PETERSBURG, VA – If a baseball team enjoys an early winning streak, seasoned fans know to temper their enthusiasm. The season is long, and filled with ups and downs.
In many ways, the same thing can be said of the HME industry. Industry veteran Sam Clay, RPh, devoted Yankee fan and owner of Clay Home Medical, has seen his share of winning streaks. These days, Clay still has three Virginia locations in Petersburg, Franklin, and Emporia, but competitive bidding has made things difficult.
“Our Petersburg branch is in the bidding area,” says Clay. “Two thirds of my patients are in the bidding area, so it has hit us pretty hard. We are hanging in there, but we have reduced 10 employees.”
One reason Clay has been able to “hang in there” is that he long ago embraced the retail side, even when it was not in vogue. “Retail came in favor, then went out of favor, then came back, but we’ve been retail all the way through,” he says. “I reduced my Medicare percentage—before bidding—down to about 33%. That allowed me to withstand the cuts better than some people have. It’s not easy.”
Clay owned an independent pharmacy for 29 years, including an HME he split off during most of that time. In 2012, he sold the pharmacy portion to focus solely on the HME side. His faith in HME remains strong, and his commitment to legislative advocacy has not wavered.
“I have been a member of AAHomecare for a number of years, and I am on the Legislative Council for AAHomecare,” says Clay. “AAHomecare is our unified voice for the industry, and everybody should make an effort to support them. Tom Ryan is the perfect choice to lead the organization. He is a hands-on, roll-up-your-sleeves kind of guy, and he is working very hard. What we are facing is tougher, but the fight is worth fighting for.”
Attendance at every Medtrade (except one) since 1994 is one of the many reasons for Clay’s longevity and ability to react to change, and he has already made his plans to be in Atlanta for Medtrade (Oct 20-23, 2014). “I would love to go to both Medtrade and Medtrade Spring (March 10-12, 2014),” he says, “but I prefer to go to the closer one. I go to see new products, to meet with accounts and vendors that we have, and to network with other providers.”
When he’s not tending to his three locations in the Old Dominion State, you’ll likely find Clay watching his favorite team, the Yankees, on TV. “I’m about as big of a Yankee fan as you can get,” enthuses Clay. “My office is painted in pin stripes, and I have an authentic seat from Yankee stadium. I’m also a Civil War buff. I grew up five miles from Five Forks, which was one of the last big battles before the surrender at Appomattox. It’s something that has been a part of my life growing up, and it is now.”