Local family grows its medical supplies company

February 17, 2022 : The Eagle-Tribune, by Mike LaBella

HAVERHILL — During a time when many family-owned and operated home medical supplies businesses closed their doors, one Haverhill family not only found the keys to surviving, but their business now has offices in three New England states and they are planning to buy their own building in the Ward Hill Business Park.

Home Care Specialists Inc., owned and operated by the Desmarais family of Haverhill, plans to expand and create an additional 10 full-time jobs and five part-time jobs in the next three years.

MassDevelopment announced last week it has partnered with Haverhill Bank to provide a $2.9 million loan so the Desmarais family can buy the building at 63 Neck Road that currently houses Lightspeed Manufacturing, which will continue operations in one side of the building under a lease agreement.

APEM Inc., which has been operating out of the other side of the 63 Neck Road building, is in the process of moving out, said Brian Desmarais, CEO of his family’s business, Home Care Specialists.

“This loan program allowed us to maintain our cash reserves for day-to-day operations as we continue to adapt to the new healthcare environment the pandemic has left behind,” Desmarais said.

He said the pandemic has been a boon to his family’s business.

“We’ve seen less institutionalization and more home care with more people working from home and able to provide that care to loved ones when they did not have that flexibility before,” he said. “We’re learning we can provide more acute services at home ... and with home-based care and telemedicine, patients can now have monitoring from home and meet online with their doctors.”

Home Care Specialists is a supplier of respiratory therapy and home medical equipment and relocating to 63 Neck Road will allow it to reduce expenses and streamline its services.

“The building we’ve been leasing at 113 Neck Road has more office space than we need as more of our employees have been working from home,” Desmarais said. “The building at 63 Neck Road that we plan to purchase offers us more warehouse space as we run our own fleet of trucks for deliveries to where patients are, including homes, hospitals, nursing homes as well as hospice and assisted living facilities.”

Desmarais, who grew up in Haverhill and still lives in the city, said his father Bill Desmarais started the company in 1979 and currently serves as its board chairman.

“My sister Renee (Desmarais) Morin is a physical therapist and co-owner, my sister Elise (Desmarais) Samatis is a respiratory therapist and co-owner, and my mother, Paula Desmarais is a retired school nurse,” he said.

The family originally operated the company out of their home on Brandy Brow Road. Over time it grew and moved into various locations in the city.

“We opened a second location in Concord, New Hampshire, then another branch in Elliott, Maine, and then we moved to 113 Neck Road in 2005, which was a big expansion for us,” Brian Desmarais said. “We started with two respiratory therapists installing oxygen equipment in people’s homes and now we have more than 100 employees at four locations in three states.”

Brian Desmarais said his father launched the company the year he was born and at first it was mostly an oxygen provider. It later branched out into the sleep apnea supplies business and continued to diversify its products and services.

“With more than 40% of the competition not surviving, we were lucky to figure it out and succeed,” he said. “We continued to diversify, including into the hospice business.”

He said a growing number of clients who are nearing end of life prefer to spend their last days at home, surrounded by their loved ones rather than be in a medical or hospice facility.

“We are able to accommodate real time care by providing them with oxygen beds, wheelchairs, patient lifts and respiratory equipment that we assist in installing, sometimes in living rooms, sometimes in bedrooms or in a vacation home where people want to spend their last days,” Brian Desmarais said. “We also service almost every hospice program in the area making 150 deliveries a day.”

Mayor James Fiorentini praised MassDevelopment and Haverhill Bank for investing in this Haverhill company and its plan to expand to a larger building in Ward Hill and add 15 new jobs in the city.

“Home Care Specialists is the latest Haverhill company or project that MassDevelopment has invested in and my administration looks forward to many more successful partnerships with the agency as we continue to support local businesses and move Haverhill forward,” Fiorentini said.

Economic Development Secretary Mike Kennealy, who serves as chair of MassDevelopment’s Board of Directors, said the Baker-Polito Administration is committed to helping companies across the Commonwealth expand and achieve their business goals.

“MassDevelopment’s strong relationships with banks are key to delivering low-cost financing that helps businesses thrive,” he said.

MassDevelopment, the state’s development finance agency and land bank, works with businesses, nonprofits, banks, and communities to stimulate economic growth across the state.