NEWPORT NEWS, VA – Known as the “Mouth of the South” when discussing current events, or Red Dog Leader when behind the controls of an airplane, the outspoken Tom Inman has long fought for his business, and his beliefs, over a 35-year career in the HME industry.
As owner of Virginia Home Medical, Inman has weathered a difficult 2013 in which he let go two thirds of his staff due to the effects of competitive bidding. Now down to one 7,500 sq-ft location in Newport News, Va, the 63-year-old has vowed to continue to fight for the business he took over from his dad in 1978.
Now a member of AAHomecare (after his membership in the National Association of Independent Medical Equipment Services was absorbed by AAHomecare), Inman is pleased with the recent selection of Tom Ryan to lead AAHomecare. “I have never met a man who had more passion for this industry,” says Inman of Ryan, who now serves as president and CEO of AAHomecare. “It was an absolutely stellar choice.”
Even before he took the helm of an HME business, Inman already had a pilot’s license, and he continues to fly for pleasure—and to help out Republican political candidates. On one recent trip, he flew South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley to a speech using a friend’s turbo prop airplane.
The following actual exchange between Haley and Inman shows how the “Mouth of the South” is comfortable kidding with just about anyone.
Inman: “Governor, I know you are running late, but we have great weather, and I’ll be able get you into Richmond, Va, in an hour and 22 minutes. However, I’m not so sure you should be flying with me today.”
Haley: “Can you tell me why?”
Inman: “I’m just a little depressed.”
Haley: “Well, why are you depressed?”
Inman: “After reading your bio, I discovered that I’ve been flying more years  than you have been alive, and quite frankly that’s pretty depressing.”
The state trooper may have frowned during the entire exchange, but Inman reports that the Governor had a good laugh and the flight went off without a hitch. Talk with Inman for a half hour and he is sure to entertain with similar stories.
In addition to periodically flying around luminaries, Inman flies for the fun of it. He recently purchased a 1942 open cockpit WW II trainer from an owner who required a lot of convincing. “It took me five years to talk it away from the owner,” says Inman of the aircraft in the photo above. “The owner was going to put it in a museum…Flying is my drug of choice.” — Greg Thompson