Josh Anderson: Not-so-new face behind Permobil
LEBANON, Tenn. – For Josh Anderson, a job at Permobil feels like destiny.
When Anderson, the company’s newly minted vice president of marketing, started his career in the HME industry about 30 years ago, he worked for a provider in Florida and the Permobil sales rep assigned to his company was Larry Jackson, who is now president of Permobil.
There’s also the fact that TiLite, where Anderson worked for 12 years and was most recently vice president of global portfolio management, was bought by Permobil in the spring of 2014.
Here’s what Anderson, a wheelchair user, had to say about why Permobil is the place where he belongs.
HME News: What was the attraction in working for Permobil?
Josh Anderson: When TiLite was acquired by Permobil in 2014, it was a very natural and easy transition. The companies had already worked together on efforts like Users First. That closeness and sharing the same philosophy made it easier. I’ve also known Larry Jackson for 20-plus years. I know what he’s about and what he’s done to benefit the industry, and to have the opportunity to work more closely with him—I couldn’t pass that up.
HME: What does your experience at TiLite bring to Permobil?
Anderson: I think we’ve changed people’s mindsets—that’s the thing I’m most proud of. It’s not a specific ad or a specific product, but instead of looking at wheelchairs as a disability, looking at them as an ability. We’ve marketed to wheelchair users very much as a lifestyle product, not a disabled product.
HME: That’s a philosophy shared by all three companies: Permobil, TiLite and Roho, which Permobil bought in 2015.
Anderson: Yes, they all design products around needs of users, not around codes. When people see a Permobil, TiLite or Roho product, we want them to see a product that enhances their lifestyle and gives them quality of life—that’s the trick. One of the coolest things that’s happened to me is having someone come up to me and say, “I really think your bike is cool.” They’re looking at my manual wheelchair and relating it more to a bike than a wheelchair.
HME: What does being a wheelchair user add to your role?
Anderson: When it’s your professional role but also your social role, you’re just always thinking about it. A good friend of mine, Jim Black, says, “It’s what allows us to have a pulse on the industry.” We represent the people buying these products. Ten years ago, you’d see companies using non-disabled models. A simple no-no like that doesn’t happen when you have a wheelchair user involved.
HME: What can we expect from Permobil from a marketing perspective going forward?
Anderson: Permobil, TiLite and Roho each have their strengths and I think my role right now is being a sounding board for them to continue doing the great job they’ve been doing. We’d also like to add some uniformity to our messaging, whether it’s the cool factor of a product or creating more of that lifestyle image. We want one company look and message. I think that’s something that will allow us to be better at the products we’re already making. hme