The US medical equipment and supplies distribution industry includes about 7,000 companies with combined annual revenue of about $130 billion. Major companies include Henry Schein, Owens & Minor, Patterson Companies, and PSS World Medical. The industry is concentrated: the top 50 companies account for about 70 percent of revenue.
Demand depends on the number of people in the US receiving medical treatment. The profitability of individual companies depends on merchandising and efficient delivery systems. Large companies have economies of scale in purchasing, and highly developed infrastructure that allow for efficient distribution. Small companies can compete effectively by specializing in a product line or servicing a local customer base. The industry is capital-intensive: annual revenue per employee is about $700,000.
PRODUCTS, OPERATIONS & TECHNOLOGY
Major products include medical and surgical instruments and equipment (about 45 percent of revenue); supplies (about 40 percent); and dental equipment and supplies (about 5 percent). Other products include orthopedic and prosthetic appliances, and veterinary supplies. Some companies carry over 90,000 stock-keeping units (SKUs) while others specialize in niche markets and may carry only a few different stock items to serve a local market’s specific needs.
Distributors buy high volumes of product from manufacturers, store these products at company-operated distribution centers, and deliver to customers as required. Products are generally delivered by company-owned or leased trucks. Common carriers are used as needed.
Computer and Internet technologies play a major role. Distributors operate proprietary systems that allow...