Please provide a company background including when it was established, where it is located, how many staff you employ etc.
Hospital Aids was established in 1981 by one lady working from her garage in Brixworth Northamptonshire, producing a small number of evacuation products for Northampton General Hospital. The company was purchased by the current owners in 2002 and are now based in Northampton. The original product, the Ski Sheet was just one of those innovative ideas that enabled an industry to grow and develop from it.
In 2009 sister company Spectrum Healthcare (UK) Ltd was purchased to allow access to some additional evacuation devices which are imported from Australia. Both Companies operate from the same premises and employ 15 staff between them.
Please provide an overview of the products and services offered and areas of specialisation.
Hospital Aids, are primarily manufacturers of evacuation equipment designed to assist in the safe removal of hospital patients and care home premises, in the event of fire or other major emergency. We work with healthcare professionals and organisations to develop evacuation products to cater for all types of individuals, including patients with specialist or complex care needs, young persons and bariatric individuals.
Our most well-known products manufactured on site are the Ski Sheet and Ski Pad, an evolved module of the sheet. Both products are used in emergency mattress evacuation situations.
Many of our products can be adapted to the requirements of individual premises and patients.
How did you find out about emita and what benefits do you find the most valuable?
We originally found out about Emita through Medilink East Midlands, who are an organisation that we work closely with. We have found Emita to be a very helpful networking organisation with useful subject matter. Our close affinity with our International Trade Adviser from UK Trade and Investment has also helped to strengthen our ties with EMITA.
How long has your company been active in the export / import market and which countries do you currently trade with?
Hospital Aids has been actively exporting for over 10 years and importing since the purchase of sister company Spectrum Healthcare (UK) Ltd in 2009.
The evacuation equipment manufactured under the Hospital Aids “Ski” brand is currently exported to Republic of Ireland, Mainland Europe, Saudi Arabia, UAE, USA, Turkey, East Asia, Australia and New Zealand.
What made you decide to expand your business overseas?
We were originally encouraged by Medilink East Midlands and given an introduction to UK Trade and Investment who assisted with our first exhibition in 2005 in Dusseldorf, Germany. After that exhibition we saw a great opportunity to sell our products around the world particularly with evacuation legislation across Europe starting to come into line with the existing UK legislation.
What has been your biggest exporting / importing challenge?
The changing nature of exchange rates and the need to review pricing on a regular basis has been a big challenge. The varying requirements for legalisation paperwork, in particular for countries such as Saudi Arabia and other Middle East territories. We have found that the local Chamber of Commerce and our own freight forwarders have been extremely helpful in resolving these paperwork issues.
What’s the most helpful piece of international trade advice you have received?
Ensure that you have fully researched any regulatory and import requirements to be able to sell your products into a particular market otherwise you can waste valuable time only to find that it is going to be a lot more difficult than you thought, or even unprofitable!
What does the future hold? Any particular markets you are looking to target next?
Later this month we are launching our latest innovation the new Bariatric EMS EvacMat – designed especially for use by the emergency services to aid in the evacuation of obese/bariatric individuals. This latest Evacuation device to be put into production has received some very positive feedback and interest already, so we feel very confident about it.
Over the next few years we will continue to expand our range of bariatric equipment and develop business relationships in the USA in particular, where we see a great market for such products.
We hope that our continual expansion into new international markets around the world and the growth of interest in bariatric products will help to further fuel the success of the Company.