Hard work goes a long way in home care distribution
Sometimes, being in the right place at the right time is the key to success. But don’t count on it. Kevin Davis doesn’t.
“My dad used to say, ‘You make your own luck,’” says Davis, corporate account manager, Concordance Healthcare Solutions. Now, he says the same thing.
Davis, who calls on home care agencies in the Southeast, was born and raised in LaFollette, Tenn. His father, Charlie, worked in finance and banking; his mother, JoAnn, worked in the technology division of the local school system. “They were tremendous role models,” he says. “They gave my brother and me a great foundation to expand upon.”
In 1990, Davis went to work in the DME and pharmacy division of Riggs Drug Store (now Riggs Hospital Supplies). Four years later, he joined Southland Medical. “I started off in shipping and receiving, and worked my way into different operational roles,” he says.
It was a key point in Davis’ career.
“I loved working in the distribution business,” he says. “I worked shipping and receiving, different consignment routes. I counted products, ran warehouses. I loved the operational side of the business. I thought that one day, I would eventually run warehouses and operations.”
From operations to sales
In 2000, he joined Xpress Medical, a Knoxville, Tenn.-based distributor servicing home health agencies, long-term care, primary care and government accounts. It was there that he got a taste of sales…and took a liking to that aspect of the business as well.
“The owner at the time said, ‘We have to do a little bit of everything,’” recalls Davis, including sales. “I guess that was my niche. The day-to-day interaction with the customers and the challenge to come through for a customer gave me a new lease on this industry.
“I’m a people person. I have a big personality. I love to talk to people, though I learned early on how to listen. I got a taste of success in sales, and I liked the competitive aspect of it too.”
He credits Robin Housley, who ran the warehouse at Southland, for taking him under his wing when he needed the help. “He taught me, through his own example, to be a hard worker,” he says. “I worked off and on with Robin for close to 10 years,” he says. “More important, we became friends through the process, and I still look to him as an example.”
In 2003, Davis became a rep for Omni Healthcare, a regional distributor based in Knoxville, Tenn. Company co-owner Ron Sherrill “had a great reputation and gave me an opportunity to get into sales at a higher level,” says Davis. “I really enjoyed my time there, and was able to grow my territory even more during this time frame.” Two years later, the company was acquired by Druzak Medical in Pittsburgh, and then, McKesson Medical-Surgical. In 2012, he joined MMS – A Medical Supply Company, which, in 2016, merged with Seneca Medical and Kreisers to form Concordance Healthcare Solutions.
“I think home care will do nothing but continue to grow,” he says. “All continuums of care will be incentivized to keep the patient home, because it’s cheaper and it’s better for the patient. But there are definitely going to be some challenges, because reimbursement cuts are hurting DME owners, agencies and hospices. They have to find ways to be more efficient.”
“I joke sometimes that I have made it this far in spite of myself,” says Davis. “You can’t be in this business as long as I have and not pick up on things. I try to be a good listener and surround myself with people better than me. I try to keep things as simple as possible. If you tell somebody you’re going to do something, you do it. And embrace technology and use it to your advantage.”
To young people considering a career in home care sales, Davis offers this advice: “If you don’t want the same day-to-day routine, and you value strong relationships, this job is for you. I have been blessed to have customers and manufacturer reps who have become lifelong friends.
“It’s not an easy job. You have to love it and accept the good with the bad, but it’s a great way to make your living.”
Fifteen years or so ago, Davis came across a saying posted in a customer’s office: “Good manners will open doors that the best education cannot,” which has been attributed to U.S. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas. “That is something that I have stressed to my kids, and something that helped me, especially in the early parts of my sales career,” says Davis.
“It is a simple process and easy to do, and I’m convinced it works. As a matter of fact, I think it works better today than it has at any point because of the fast-paced world we live in.”
Davis and his wife, Jamie Buchanon Davis, live in Somerset, Ky. “It’s a great community to raise a family,” he says. Together they have four children: Dalton, Delaney, Braxton and Kinslee. Maintaining a work/family balance is important to all. “As soon as the weather warms up, we really embrace outdoor living, and we love spending time on the back deck, letting the kids play with their friends, grilling, hanging out with friends and neighbors.”