Pogir powers down

Tuesday, September 30, 2003

ELYRIA, Ohio - Hymie Pogir, who for more than two decades has guided the development of Invacare’s power wheelchairs, is leaving the glare, the glamor and the clamor of the surging product category for a new, stealthier business proposition.
Pogir, 58, will go to work for Stealth Technologies, a Burnet, Texas, manufacturer of wheelchair components widely known for its headrests. He started work at Invacare in 1980, just months after Mal Mixon launched the company in Dec. 1979.

Although he plans to leave Invacare at the end of the year, he’ll remain affiliated as an adviser and consultant, according to Lou Slangen, Invacare’s senior vice president of sales and marketing.

Pogir was traveling out of the country and could not be reached to comment for this article.

Pogir leaves Invacare on a high note as the company’s new TDX power chair gains traction in the marketplace. “His name is plastered all over that,” said Slangen. “He is the genius behind that product.”

The industry’s veteran suppliers affirm Slangen’s assessment of Pogir’s impact. “In terms of product knowledge, Hymie is far above anyone else,” said Simon Margolis, vice president of clinical and professional development at National Seating and Mobility. “There are some really good engineers out there, but in terms of understanding from the bottom of the tire to the top of the client, if you will, Hymie is above anybody else.”

Margolis met Pogir about 20 years ago when Margolis was working in the University of Wisconsin’s rehab engineering program, and Pogir was trying to roll out Invacare’s power products against then-dominant Everest & Jennings.

Pogir sold Margolis on Invacare, and Margolis began purchasing 300-400 power chairs per year from Invacare.

Pogir’s departure comes at uncertain times for the power wheelchair market as CMS and its administrator begin turning up the heat on a product category that Medicare believes is hyperactive. Margolis doesn’t relish losing Pogir at this juncture.

“He’s been absolutely an anchor in the storm of everything that’s gone on with power wheelchair design and reimbursement problems over the years,” said Margolis.

Stealth Technologies is owned by Lorenzo Romero. One of the company’s investors is Rucker Ashmore, who runs Invacare’s Texas subsidiary, Adaptive Switch Labs.