Invacare, Invamex and the FDA


I spoke briefly with Kelly Mize and Brian Ellacott of Invacare yesterday about the company's decision to move the manufacturing of its Solara line of manual wheelchairs to an existing facility in Reynosa, Mexico.

Mize, a spokeswoman, and Ellacott, vice president and general manager of Invacare North American Commercial Operations, reiterated much of what was in the mainstream media last week about the move:

That the facility in Mexico, called Invamex, already manufactures manual wheelchairs.

That the move is part of the company's long-term manufacturing strategy.

That there will be no job losses. Employees at the Elyria facility who are working on the Solara line will train the employees at Invamex and then will be transitioned to other roles.

Mize and Ellacott did say a few things that I thought were interesting: That "Invamex makes more manual wheelchairs than the rest of the company combined" and that the company now plans to focus Invamex on manufacturing manual wheelchairs and Elyria on manufacturing power wheelchairs. This will allow Invacare to "focus on getting quality systems in place" in Elyria.

When I asked whether the decision had anything to do with Invacare's ongoing negotiations with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), Mize said, "It was a good time to make this move," and Ellacott said, "Companies tweak manufacturing and reallocate manufacturing all the time."

I'll be tuning in to Invacare's earnings call on Thursday morning to see what else company officials have to say about Invamex and the FDA.

Stay tuned.

Liz Beaulieu