One Man’s Junk Is Another
Edition: September 2002 - Vol 10 Number 09
Mark Wallis has a fish story to share with you.
The year was 1982. Wallis had just been fired from his position as district manager in Houston with a med/surg distributor. Seems his branch had a little too much overstock inventory on hand. “But I knew everybody else [in the Houston market] had overstock, too,” says Wallis. So, with the blessing of his old employer, he convened district managers from three distributors in the Houston area and arranged a swap of overstock inventory. Realizing the idea had legs, he started a company focused on just such trades, calling it FISH, for “First In, Still Here.”
Today, the fish has morphed into a palm tree. In fact, Wallis is CEO of the Palm Tree Group, parent company of Invatec, Optimal Healthcare and Miami International – three companies focused on helping supply chain players find a home for their overstock inventory and, in the process, alleviate waste in the supply chain.
“A product that is dead doesn’t necessarily mean it’s not sellable,” says Wallis. That’s another way of saying that one man’s junk is another man’s treasure.
In May, the company brought on Mike Spina – most recently, managing director for ABCO Dealers – as vice president of business development for Palm Tree. He and Pam Wedow (vice president of Invatec), Parker Bigley, (vice president of Optimal) and Pete Junge (director of sales for Miami International) have begun calling on distributors to help them identify their overstock inventory and offering profitable ways to dispose of it. That which can’t find a home domestically may find one in the international market.
It’s a prospect about which Spina is excited. “I’ve been in the business since 1975, and nobody ever came into my office and said, ‘I’m not here to sell you anything, but to give you cash.’” He believes that the Palm Tree Group’s mission is to do just that. He already has begun a direct marketing campaign to spread the word about the company.
“Our multifaceted approach to eliminating overstock inventory, which has been around for a number of years, is now going to be cast under one name,” says Wallis. Spina’s job will be to heighten the industry’s consciousness of Palm Tree Group name and what it stands for.
Adds Spina, “By putting all our programs together under the Palm Tree, we can market a comprehensive inventory service.”
Palm Tree’s three-pronged approach to overstock management is Invatec, Optimal and Miami International.
Invatec is an overstock trading company formed in partnership with the Health Industry Distributors Association. Its electronic platform is www.hidaoverstock.com, which the company uses to perform trades, explains Pam Wedow. Participating distributors provide Invatec with a list of their overstock inventory as well as active inventory. Before a trading day (the date of which is announced in advance on the website), Invatec’s database manager, Shannon Trahan, creates a “custom buy report” for participants, notifying them of the available stock that matches their active inventory list.
When a sale is made, the seller ships the product to Invatec in Houston, who takes ownership of the product and receivables. The company makes sure the inventory is in like-new condition and that it meets a couple of criteria: first, that it has at least 12 months of shelf life remaining, and second, that it is in the original vendor carton.
Miami International sells overstock from the United States to foreign countries. The company, which operated for approximately 10 years under the “Optimal” name, “has been developing relationships offshore to sell those products that are no longer selling in the United States,” says Wallis. “Products that are dead, absolutely dead.”
Unlike Invatec, which doesn’t accept products until a buyer has been identified for them, Miami International buys products outright or, in some cases, accepts them on a consignment basis.
Like Invatec and Miami International, Optimal is also in the business of trading overstock. But unlike the other two, its customer base includes manufacturers as well as distributors, as well as non-HIDA members. It maintains an inventory of roughly $5 million that it makes available to its trading partners at a discounted cost.
“We’re almost like the Ghostbusters,” says Spina, referring to the popular movie. “Who ya’ gonna’ call for overstock? The Palm Tree Group”