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Meet El Hanna Thomas Jr of The Equipment Dr’s in Brockton

Today we’d like to introduce you to El Hanna Thomas Jr.

El Hanna, can you briefly walk us through your story – how you started and how you got to where you are today.
In 1997, I started working for a DME (Durable Medical Equipment) company in New Orleans LA. I knew nothing about any of the equipment I was basically a warehouse worker. I learned a lot quickly on the fly as were a very small company and there was no one to really ask how to do most things. I have always been good at and interested in putting things together or repairing them if they broke. I taught myself how to put together Rehab wheelchairs by reading the diagrams that came with the items and reading the occupational therapists notes on why they had ordered certain part for each chair. It was fun I grew in the company moving out of the warehouse into a delivery driver role then into management. Fast forward to 2002 I moved to Boston because of a chance meeting with someone in New Orleans. I had grew up in NOLA and never really lived anywhere else as an adult. Here in Boston my first job was for a Home Medical Equipment and Oxygen company where I learned a lot about repairing Oxygen equipment. Around this time the insurance issues began to arise within the DME field. Insurances began to lower their reimbursements to providers. I started seeing calls coming in from clients with broken equipment and we were instructed to tell them that since it was paid for already by the insurance company and that we couldn’t fix it. Needless to say they next question was well who do I call? This went on for a while my company got bought out and I left. However I left with an Idea. The Equipment Dr’s were born a little while later. We are a flexible company we started out almost like a courier service for companies that were short staffed and unable to make timely Medical equipment deliveries. We supplemented that with doing repairs for people with broken equipment. We have grown over the last few years by word of mouth. As basically the only company willing to bill for repairs and not require same day payment from group home, assisted living, nursing home settings we have established a client base that is loyal and happy with our services. Most established DME/Oxygen companies whether nationally owned or locally owned here in Massachusetts we are recommended to the repairs by them. We work with individuals as well the previously stated organizations. It is a rewarding business in that my entrepreneurial itch is scratched and we get to help people in our community. A lot of times due to changes in the patient diagnosis they are not as sick as they were when they initially got the equipment they have so they can’t get new equipment but they still need to be able to use the wheelchair or hospital bed and without us some of them would be forced to pay a lot more for new equipment out of their own pockets. Our services provide a way to keep what they have get it repaired at much cheaper out of pocket costs. All of our business hinges on doing the repairs correctly the first time fortunately we have been able to do this for 5 years now. I converted my garage to a repair shop so it’s convenient and fun to work whenever I feel like it. Thanks to the support of my wonderful wife we are enjoying our business and enjoying the ability to provide a helpful service to our community.

We’re always bombarded by how great it is to pursue your passion, etc – but we’ve spoken with enough people to know that it’s not always easy. Overall, would you say things have been easy for you?
It honestly has been pretty smooth the main struggles with a start up like this is cash flow but we have never had to take a loan out so we are happy about that. Keeping overhead extremely low has helped accomplish this. Just getting people to believe in your company is the biggest obstacle to deal with. This is medical equipment you can afford any mistakes. People’s health and well-being or depending on you fixing the equipment the right way. There have been a few times when I needed to work a regular job and run my business as a side gig. That works out fine for me too. I’m in charge of the schedule so I can work around a 9 to 5 and not miss a beat.

We’d love to hear more about your business.
Our company fixes home medical equipment. Wheelchairs, Scooters, Lift Chairs, Hospital Beds, Oxygen concentrators etc. We specialize in basic medical equipment that everyday consumers use. We do however do repairs at facilities as well. I’m most proud of the fact that we self-sustained no one owns a piece of the company no loans or mortgages etc. Our niche is that we are just about the only company strictly doing repairs in homes or facilities and I can say that our flexibility sets us totally apart from anyone else a lot of the companies and facilities that use us initially tried to call other normal dme companies but they were not flexible with their payment requirements and therefore couldn’t work with each other. If anyone does finally get it our service knowledge and track record will shine through!

What were you like growing up?
Growing up I was raised by two great parents. We were raised in a religious household, I was in the south so we were taught manners like saying Yes ma’am and yes Sir. I was outgoing fairly popular in school. SPORTS SPORTS AND MORE SPORTS big part of my life. Main sport was football. Played as much and as often as I could. My father owned several companies and I’d work for him most of the time. He had a construction company it was hard work but it molded me into a decent human being as far as not being totally lazy lol. I didn’t appreciate it enough back then the way I do now. We are Jehovah’s Witnesses so a lot of time was spent knocking on peoples doors too trying to teach them about the bible. I believe this practice kept me from being shy I was constantly starting conversations with total strangers.

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