Permobil completes ‘main strategy’

Friday, March 27, 2015

LEBANON, Tenn. – Permobil plans to use its acquisition of The ROHO Group as a launching pad to become more of an outcomes-based company.

Belleville, Ill.-based ROHO has been working with Dr. Amit Gefen at Tel Aviv University in Israel, for example, to study the efficacy of its air-cell based cushions vs. foam cushions on pressure ulcers.

“As you make a product and hand it over to the user, you hope it works properly, but we want to show and prove that it works properly,” said Larry Jackson, president of Permobil North America. “They’re farther down the road with that than we are.”

Permobil’s acquisition of ROHO follows its acquisition of Pasco, Wash.-based TiLite last year. As it did with TiLite, Permobil plans to continue operating and branding ROHO independently but leverage its own sales force to help grow the company further.

ROHO also brings to Permobil a deeper presence in the global market—it does business in 65 countries.

“They have a bigger global presence than us or TiLite,” Jackson said. “They sell in Russia, Chile, you name it. We hope to piggyback on them.”

For ROHO, a family business, Permobil and its investor owner, Investor AB, bring deeper pockets.

“The family has done a fantastic job, but leading the company to new heights will require significant investment,” said Tom Borcherding, who will remain president of ROHO. “A larger organization like Permobil brings more of an ability and a desire to invest to reach those next levels of growth.”

ROHO will continue to pursue business with other manufacturers, like Sunrise Medical and Ottobock.

“We would hope that our business partners would want to continue the relationship as much as we want to,” Borcherding said. “There’s value to the end user in those relationships continuing, and that should trump anything else.”

While Permobil now considers itself a “triple play” with a presence in the power wheelchair, manual wheelchair, and seating and positioning markets, it hasn’t ruled out further acquisitions.

“We consider those the three main legs of our strategy, but there are other products that we’d like to have, as well, that are maybe on the fringe,” Jackson said.

The only financial terms of the deal disclosed: Permobil and ROHO have combined sales of more than SEK 2.5 billion, according to a press release.