Daytona Beach — Having sailed past its 65th birthday, Tel-Tron of Daytona Beach, Florida, has something in common with the nation’s nimble but aging baby boomer population.
Like many an enlightened boomer, the family-owned firm views aging as an opportunity for growth. As a supplier of wireless emergency call systems, the 50+-employee firm is now poised to open a new chapter — one that will involve an ambitious rebranding later this winter when it adds a line of products specially tailored for “home market” consumers rather than its traditional customers, the owners and operators of assisted living communities.
“The owners of these communities cannot keep up with the housing needs of the aging boomer population. It’s just not feasible — they just cannot build enough units. So there will be more people staying in their homes longer,” says Malcolm Graham, Tel-Tron’s senior vice president of operations.
Meanwhile, Graham says, the firm’s emergency response offerings themselves have continued to evolve as traditional offerings have become commoditized and the firm has begun to enhance its offerings to address the growing demand for predictive healthcare and integrated communication solutions.
For Tel-Tron, the home healthcare market is just the latest evolutionary turn for an enterprising family firm that got its start by outfitting high-rise hotels with coin-operated AM radios. What followed was a variety of hotel automation systems designed to assist hotel owners in managing everything from air-conditioning levels to theft prevention.
“Sometime in the ’70s or ’80s, there was a switch to being primarily focused on fire and safety systems, and this was the same time that the personal emergency response opportunity first came into focus,” explains Graham, who adds that personal emergency response offerings eventually became the firm’s central focus, causing its customer-roll makeup to change from hotel owners to assisted living operators.
“What happened here in Florida was that a number of large hotels were being converted into senior living communities, so as these new senior environments emerged, we became aware of their needs,” explains Graham, who notes that over the years, the growth of senior communities throughout the United States remained steady up until the economic downturn.
Says Graham: “We a had a steep dip back in 2007 when home prices deteriorated. Senior communities felt the pain because people have to be able to sell their homes to move into these communities, and this just was not happening.”
Tel-Tron’s latest evolutionary turn involves a line of products designed to suit the needs of seniors living independent of a community. To get connected to the home care market, Tel-Tron has been busily aligning itself with the growing population of home healthcare agencies.
“Home healthcare organizations are just exploding, and these agencies are the middleware of the business-to-consumer opportunity,” explains Graham, who says that many of Tel-Tron’s commercial clients — the owners of assisted living communities — are acquiring home market agencies as they too see the opportunity shifting to the home market.
“The gap we bridge is that the product we supply to home consumers can also be taken into the assisted living community when and if they choose to move, and all the data can easily be merged,” says Graham.