Reporter's notebook: All things clinical at Invacare

Friday, May 20, 2016

ELYRIA, Ohio – Invacare’s name has been popping up on the job board of RESNA, an association of rehab and assistive technology professionals, quite a bit recently, and there’s good reason for it.

The company, which seeks rehab sales specialists across the country, has made no secret in recent earnings calls that it’s in the process of retraining much of its sales force to be specialists instead of generalists in not only complex power wheelchairs but also home oxygen therapy and on down its product line.

As the job postings imply, however, it’s also adding new names to its payroll.

“There’s not a specific number we’ve put out there,” said Lara Mahoney, senior director of investor relations & corporate communications for Invacare, about how many sales reps the company is hiring. “We’re doing a lot of different things to expand our sales force and our presence in our product categories.”

Industry watchers view the move as Invacare putting the pieces in place for a post-consent decree play. The company has been limited in how it can manufacture and sell complex power wheelchairs per an agreement with the Food and Drug Administration hammered out in late 2012. 

But Mahoney says it’s bigger than that. The push to reframe and grow its sales force meshes with a new strategy by Invacare to better leverage the products in its lineup, especially those that are more clinical and that might be better known by brand or subsidiary. One example: Motion Concepts, which became a subsidiary of Invacare in 2010, and now provides the seating and positioning for, and distributes ROVI power wheelchairs.

“Many of these products are now available through the Invacare sales force and part of our strategy is expanding that sales force to make sure they’re trained and fully aware of the complete clinical portfolio that we have,” she said.

These changes very much carry the handwriting of Invacare’s still relatively new Chairman, President and CEO Matt Monaghan. Under his tenure, the company has developed a new North America marketing campaign: “The whole is greater than the sum of its parts. One company, seven specialized brands with one common goal: improving outcomes and lives, one customer at a time.”

“Our passion for making life’s experiences possible for the people who use our devices has led to our legacy of differentiated technology and teams of experts who continue to innovate,” he wrote in an annual letter to shareholders in April, his first. “We have a pipeline of new products in multiple brands and subsidiaries that will continue to bring clinical innovations. As we pursue a strategy to emphasize clinically differentiated and innovative medical devices, we will take greater advantage of these platforms.” hme