Phoenix Business Journal by Tony Ku, The Business Journal
Date: Sunday, December 22, 2002
Improving people’s lives is the goal.
That’s what Erika Feinberg says she’s doing with her newest business, Independent Living Products Corp. And she is adding a new executive team, new offices and a revised business plan to make sure that goal is met.
“Normally, when a patient leaves a hospital, (doctors) don’t necessarily sit down with them and tell them that in your condition, you can’t do these 10 things around the house,” said Feinberg. “They are just sent out with a prescription, and not sent with the products available to help them.”
Independent Living’s solution: finding products that provide an extra hand for the physically disabled and making sure that market segment knows about the products that will alleviate some of their problems.
“Some of the products are just incredibly useful,” said Feinberg, an entrepreneur who has purchased a number of companies.
Her most recent venture is EF Financial, a parent company that funds and helps rebuild lifestyle-type companies.
Feinberg purchased Independent Living five months ago after she and her husband, Larry Fugleberg, were looking for an investment after selling a previous business.
“When my husband and I were in search of a new business to buy, ILP fit every single spec of criteria we were looking for,” she said.
Products that Feinberg’s company retails range from simple good-grip kitchen products for arthritis plagued individuals to voice-activated TVs, alarm clocks and radios.
The company has worked with the Arthritis Foundation, and according to Vice President of Programs and Services Valerie Jones, Independent Living has made a significant impact upon the physically disabled.
“The service they provide is huge,” Jones said. “A lot of people have severe, debilitating illnesses that cause fatigue and pain and these assistive devices really allow them to do the things we take for granted.”
Independent Living has been in existence for 10 years. The new ownership is embarking on a three-part strategy to re-launch the company to increase its presence.
The business already has established itself on the Internet and developed a catalogue, and both have attracted a lot of outside business.
“We want to infiltrate Arizona pretty quickly,” Feinberg said. “Most of the business we are getting right now is from out of state.”
The most inventive part of Feinberg’s plan is to develop cooperative retailing inside a rehabilitation or acute-care hospital, integrating the company into the discharge process.
“Lots of times we become a marketing partner for the caregiver,” she said.
Jones agreed that most first-time disabled individuals don’t know about the tools and technologies available.
“When people call us for help, most of them don’t necessarily know where to go,” she said. “Health care providers may not know where to send them or have the time to do research for them. Having them in the facility is an added benefit for the patient.”
Independent Living also is creating a new executive team, scheduled to be announced in January, which is expected to help turn the company into a household name for all physically disabled.
A physical change also is in store for the company. A move from Phoenix to Scottsdale is in the works with the goal of working with the Mayo Clinic or Scottsdale Healthcare as well as partnering with other assisted-care facilities and communities.
“It’s our goal to bring an added benefit to the communities, associations, retail operations, health care organizations, corporations and insurance groups we partner with,” she said.