Managing long-term illness is an unfortunate but real aspect of many people's lives. For Access Diabetic Supply's co-founders, Montgomery Byers Jr., 34; David Wallace, 36; and Timothy Stocksdale, 34, offering mail order medical supplies to the 17 million Americans who are afflicted with diabetes caused their business to skyrocket from its first-year sales of $400,000 in 2000 to projected sales of $25 million in 2003. Banking on a profitable niche market, Access Diabetic Supply's co-founders are controlling its growth while laying the groundwork for its continued expansion and success.

As former executives at specialty chemicals and materials company W.R. Grace & Co., where they handled health-care acquisitions, Byers, Wallace and Stocksdale knew that investing heavily in technology and automation--something most of their competitors have been slow to do--would be key to moving ahead of the competition as well as managing growth. Because Access Diabetic Supply employs a direct-billing process where Medicare and insurance companies are billed electronically, the company is a virtually paperless operation.

The No. 25 company on the Hot 100 list, Access Diabetic Supply is now determined to "overemphasize" customer service. Flooded with calls and enrollment prospects as they increase advertising, the company is meeting the challenge by creating a 7-to-10-day turnaround time for enrolling new prospects. The co-founders will also bulk up their staff from 50 employees to 150 by year's end. Luckily, South Florida's cluster of health-care firms has presented a pool of well-trained specialists for the company to wade through.

The Pompano Beach, Florida-based firm continues to grow its diabetic supplies division as well as its recently added respiratory pharmacy division. Distributing respiratory medications and supplies to those suffering from asthma, emphysema and chronic bronchitis, Access Diabetic Supply's most recent target market includes 30 million potential new clients. "It really is our platform to be one of the top three players in our business," declares Wallace. "The investment's made, and that's the direction we're heading."

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