Permobil buys TiLite in bid to become ‘solutions company’

Friday, May 30, 2014

LEBANON, Tenn. – Permobil has acquired Pasco, Wash.-based TiLite in a move that the two companies believe creates a “dream team” in the complex rehab market.

“It’s the best of power and manual,” said David Boninger, vice president of communications for TiLite.

The two companies, which have combined sales of about SEK 2 billion, will continue to operate and brand their products independently, company officials say.

With the deal, Permobil takes another step toward becoming more of a “complex rehab solutions company,” says Barry Steelman, marketing director. Earlier this year, Permobil launched virtual seating coach, a smartphone app that helps wheelchair users stick to their seating and positioning regimens, he noted.

“We can’t just pigeonhole ourselves to power,” he said.

The deal allows TiLite to leverage Permobil’s bigger pockets (particularly in R&D) and direct sales force (more than 50 reps). TiLite, which has an indie sales force, is already using Permobil’s sales force in Canada, Florida and Puerto Rico per a deal hammered out earlier this year.

“I can’t give you the exact numbers, but there has been an increase in TiLite sales in Canada as a result of the partnership,” Steelman said. “That’s what we expect to see in the U.S., as well, as a result of the acquisition.” 

Though it’s mostly the same pool of providers buying both power and manual complex wheelchairs, Permobil and TiLite expect the deal to result in new customers.

“There are some dealers that TiLite is selling to that we’re not selling to and vice versa,” Steelman said. “Both companies are going to benefit.”

Company officials expect a smooth transition, particularly because Permobil and TiLite share the same business model.

“We’re both very focused on the end user and meeting their needs,” Steelman said.

The only financial terms disclosed: Permobil and its investor owner, Investor AB, will finance the deal with retained cash and new debt.