By Tom Woerner
Dunn Daily Record
DUNN – The COVID-19 pandemic shuttered thousands of businesses as the world stopped to catch its breath, but one local company is emerging stronger and better than ever.
Dunn’s Family Medical Supply took notice as the demand for oxygen related products spiked. And its employees stepped up. The AdaptHealth-owned company is now a national force in its industry, a leading distributor with an expanded reach and is bringing more jobs to the area.
Nearly all of the company’s oxygen converters came through Dunn at the height of the pandemic, according to AdaptHealth Executive Vice President Brad Heath.
“I’m proud of what our guys here have done,” Heath said. “They have stepped up and given our country a national presence in the industry.”
The Dunn site serves as a distribution hub, with items coming from countries such as Malaysia, Mexico and Vietnam being unloaded here before they are shipped around the country.
“The first American hands that touch these machines are in Dunn,” Heath said.
The devices are used to filter oxygen and are essential for many patients suffering from COVID-19. While most national attention focused on the need for ventilators the oxygen convertors were equally in demand.
“A lot of people needed them at the height of the pandemic,” Heath said.
The company also saw an increased need for CPAP (Continuous Positive Airway Pressure) therapy machines.
Nearly 40% of all CPAP machines used nationwide now pass through Dunn.
The machines force oxygen into the airways of patients. In addition to use in COVID treatments the devices are also often used to treat patients suffering from sleep apnea.
Perhaps the best news resulting from the company’s growth will be the addition of 70-75 jobs coming to the Dunn site. Many of the jobs will be office oriented positions, with other warehouse positions also available. Heath said the jobs will pay above the median salary for Harnett County.
“We definitely are going to need more people,” Heath said. “We want to provide good jobs for the community.”
A large area of the Dunn building has been reconfigured to make way for more than 50 office cubicles. Those jobs will hopefully provide a local touch for patients, hospitals and other customers.
“We don’t want our customers calling and talking to someone in the Phillipines,” Heath said. “We want to bring those jobs back locally.”
The hiring has already begun, according to Robin West who will oversee many of the new positions. West said two new employees started Monday and new ones will be added on a regular basis. The company expects to have many of the positions filled by the end of January.
Growth is also seen on the outside of the building, with large metal storage containers now on site. Those locked containers now sit full of items waiting to be distributed around the country. The Tart family, former owners of Family Medical Supply, is offering land for even more containers, if needed.
The pandemic changed a lot of things.
“It has changed needs around the world and it has affected supply chains all over the world,” Heath said. “It has forced a lot of growth here.”
The company is using innovative methods to bypass supply issues created by the pandemic. The company was unloading supplies airlifted directly from the port of Norfolk in Virginia as recently as Monday.
Heath said he expects the demand for oxygen products to ease as the pandemic slowly fades but it will not effect the Dunn employment numbers to a large degree. The company lost some jobs early on in the pandemic when the need for other medical supplies faded. Fewer accidents, fewer elective procedures and other factors lessened the demand for other products.
“We expect some of that to come back so we hope it will even up when the demand for the convertors slows,” Heath said.
Company Director of Shared Services Jeff Reed agreed.
“It’s a sad reality but there is always going to be a need for healthcare products,” Reed said.
Harnett County Board of Commissioners Chairman Lew Weatherspoon said the announcement is good news for the county.
“I am happy to have this opportunity to congratulate Adapt Health/Family Medical Supply on their announcement of approximately 75 new jobs for Dunn and Harnett County,” Weatherspoon said. “This is an outstanding example of how Harnett County is growing with existing businesses expanding. I congratulate Dunn on this great opportunity.”