Patterson Dental to Buy 'Gold Standard' Patient-Care Catalog

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Patterson Dental Co. announced a $575 million agreement yesterday to acquire privately held AbilityOne Products Corp., a distributor of rehabilitative supplies and non-wheelchair assistive patient products to the physical and occupational therapy markets.


The deal is to close during Patterson's second quarter ending Oct. 25.


With forecasted sales of about $220 million in 2003, Chicago-based AbilityOne's global customer base includes acute-care hospitals, nursing homes, rehabilitation clinics, dealers and schools. AbilityOne offers more than 15,000 rehabilitation and assistive products from more than 1,500 suppliers.


"AbilityOne's catalog is recognized as the gold standard in its marketplace, and its direct sales force is the largest in the industry," according to a statement from Patterson Dental.


AbilityOne generates about 80 percent of its revenue in North America. It will be operated as a wholly owned subsidiary of Patterson.


AbilityOne is owned by One Equity Partners, the private equity subsidiary of Bank One Corp.; Beecken Petty & Co., a venture capital firm; Smith & Nephew plc, a publicly traded UK medical device company; and management.


"AbilityOne sells to businesses almost exclusively, including long-term-care homes, rehab clinics and acute-care hospitals," said Rick Gluesenkamp, director of business development at Patterson Dental Co., St. Paul, MN. "They also sell to schools and dealers."


The business-to-business focus will continue beyond the acquisition.


"Their catalog comes out once a year and is about an inch thick," he said. "Orders are either called or faxed in. Most physical therapists or occupational therapists don't order over the Web. It's just not the way it's done in this particular piece of business. It is the one catalog that a physical therapist or occupational therapist could pick up and get what they would need for their patients. They are not prescription-based products, but part of an overall treatment program that would be used for a patient."


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