Scandinavian DOTmed 100 Company AGITO Medical's Mads Vittrup
, says his firm is flourishing under Nordic socialized medicine.
One of the sharpest differences in the used medical equipment business between the US and Europe, is that unlike AGITO's medical operations in Denmark, Sweden, Norway and Finland and most recently in France, hospitals in the US are mostly for-profit private institutions. European hospitals are non-profit public institutions relying solely upon state funding.
"In the US, hospitals needing to tighten their belts are holding on to their equipment as long as they can, while Scandinavian hospitals are buying new equipment at a much more rapid pace because the government is paying for it," says Vittrup, AGITO's manager.
"Therefore, it is easier for third-party vendors such as AGITO to get a foothold into the hospital markets in Scandinavia and in its new location in France, which also has socialized medicine," Vittrup says. He says that Anders Fage Jensen, AGITO's CEO, understood this when he opened a branch in France in the third quarter of 2007.
AGITO buys imaging equipment from hospitals including CT and MR scanners, X-ray equipment, ultrasound, and mammography, C-arms, dialysis, and anesthesia and lab equipment. Afterwards, it sells its wares to brokers. Its major customers are in the US, South America, Africa, Eastern Europe, the Middle East and Asia.
Equipment Does Not Require Refurbishing
"The equipment AGITO has been able to acquire so far from hospitals has been of such excellent quality that refurbishment has not become a necessity," AGITO's CEO, Anders CEO Jensen, says. "As such, AGITO has not been submitted to refurbishment limitations, as some competitors have. "Instead, for the time being, we have specialized in finding good systems directly at the hospitals and selling them to refurbishment companies if they need repairing," Jensen, who is DOTmed Certified, adds.
In Scandinavia, engineers cost $10,00O a month, Vittrup adds. "They go to school for five years and eventually work in large electronics companies so it is less costly for AGITO to farm out equipment that needs repairing.
Business Fundamentals Constantly Shifting
Vittrup says that part of the formula for success is keeping one step ahead of the changing value of currencies around the world, especially between the Euro and the US dollar.
Before recently the company was hard-pressed to do business in the US. "But compared to the Euro, the dollar has climbed about 25 percent since the beginning of September, Vittrup say. "This represents an enormous profit margin for international transactions." He adds, "if the dollar goes up, the Euro goes down. So we are continuously adapting our customer base."
Another piston that is currently firing for AGITO is that "when people began buying used equipment, they once looked to the US market. Now people have opened their eyes to Europe as well. A lot of brokers still fear overseas business; it may be expensive or unreliable, but overseas relationships are getting stronger, opening new doors for those willing to engage in business," Vittrup says. "We are a growing company always looking for new markets, we're very ambitious," he adds. "We have a high flow of systems and can offer our customers all sorts of equipment. And good pricing, too."