Picker unveils multivendor programwith acquisition of Linc division

April 26, 1995

Vendor promises more developments to comePicker International last week became the second vendor to jumpon the multivendor service bandwagon when it debuted a sweepingmultivendor plan that includes the purchase of the service andrefurbishing

Vendor promises more developments to come

Picker International last week became the second vendor to jumpon the multivendor service bandwagon when it debuted a sweepingmultivendor plan that includes the purchase of the service andrefurbishing operations of Linc Equipment Services. Picker's programis an ambitious effort to close the loop of the medical imagingequipment life cycle and may portend future alliances betweenvendors and third-party equipment firms.

Cleveland-based Picker had been hinting for several weeks thatit was preparing its own version of the multivendor service programdeveloped by GE HealthCare Services (SCAN 3/29/95). The GE divisionscored a major coup when it signed on the Columbia/HCA hospitalchain as a client last month (SCAN 3/15/95).

Rather than build its own third-party service and refurbishingunit from the ground up, Picker took a short cut by purchasingLinc's. Picker acquired the 75,000-square-foot Lincolnshire, IL,facility used by Linc Equipment Services, as well as 65 employees,37 of whom are field service engineers. Picker also acquired over100 Linc service contracts consisting primarily of non-PickerCT scanners.

The Lincolnshire facility will be the headquarters of PickerTechnology Services, a new division that will implement Picker'smultivendor plan. The division will be headed by general managerLou Foust, a veteran of Picker's service unit.

In addition to housing Picker Technology Services operations,the Lincolnshire facility will refurbish non-Picker equipmentthat comes off-line from Picker accounts, according to Bob Trebar,manager of business development and marketing for Picker's servicegroup. That equipment will then be provided to the Linc Groupfor resale, Trebar said. Picker already refurbishes and resellsits own equipment and will keep that business.

Picker intends to put together a multivendor service programthat is flexible and offers a wide range of options to customers,Trebar said. Acquiring Linc Equipment Services dramatically enhancesthe company's ability to maintain equipment manufactured by competitors.

"We have a very broad portfolio that we can package onan account-by-account basis to give the customer exactly whatthey require, be it a comprehensive equipment replacement program,a stand-alone multivendor service program or some combinationof that," Trebar said.

A Picker multivendor program could include placing an assetmanager on site at a hospital, or contracts with other vendorsor independent service organizations (ISOs) to maintain equipment,depending on the customer's needs, according to Trebar. Pickerhas several multivendor beta sites and has had a program in placeat one facility for over a year and a half.

The Linc Group views the Picker deal as an opportunity to exita business that was started in 1988 to service Linc rental equipment,according to Martin Zimmerman, chairman of the Linc Group. Sellingthe unit allows Linc to focus on its core sales, marketing andfinance business, which will have access to a broader productline due to the relationship with Picker.

Picker's acquisition validates the refurbished equipment market,which will only get more competitive as vendors like Picker andGE gear up their multivendor programs.

"This is a business that is increasingly competitive,and I think I would much rather be strategic partners with a company(like Picker) than competing with them," Zimmerman said."What we've seen is the manufacturers selectively gettinginvolved in refurbished equipment, which has made it more difficultfor the independents to compete."

The deal between Picker and Linc may be a harbinger of futuremoves in the industry, with OEMs partnering with leasing, refurbishingand third-party servicing firms. ISOs, refurbishers and leasingcompanies have kept a wary eye on multivendor service since GErolled out its program last year. Many fear that multivendor serviceprograms could give OEMs a significant increase in power overthe disposition of equipment as it comes off-line and enters therefurbishing cycle.

Picker's Trebar said that the Linc equipment deal is just thefirst of several developments that will follow regarding the company'smultivendor program.

"The Linc Equipment Services acquisition represents akey part in the organization, but there are other pieces in thepuzzle that are going to come into place very soon," Trebarsaid. "There is more to come."