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Invacare announces shift in focus, resulting in layoffs and new hires

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ELYRIA — A change in Invacare Corp.’s focus will lead to some local office workers losing their jobs but also some new hires as well, according to company spokeswoman Lara Mahoney.

She said it’s always tough to reduce the workforce, but this change will better position Invacare to focus on patented products that have greater patient benefit.

The company is shifting focus from a one-stop shop manufacturer of medical equipment to making products that have a greater benefit to clinically complex medical conditions and post-acute care.

The shift has resulted in the reduction of just fewer than 40 office-level associates across the country, with many coming from the Elyria and North Ridgeville campus, Mahoney said. However, Invacare is hiring in commercial sales, research and development, marketing and engineering — positions it will need as it streamlines its focus.

Invacare’s Taylor Street facility will continue to manufacture high-end customized wheelchairs often used by patients with advanced needs.

“Elyria and North Ridgeville remain center to what we do as Invacare’s headquarters, so we will grow there over time,” Mahoney said. “At the Taylor Street facility, we create innovative patent-protected power wheelchairs that we are very proud of.”

Invacare employs between 700 and 750 people in Lorain County.

The announcement comes less than a month after Invacare sold its subsidiary, Garden City Medical, which sells single-use products like canes, crutches, walkers and bath chairs, for approximately $13.8 million. Middleburg Heights-based Compass Health Brands acquired the health care line.

“While we remain committed to the Invacare brand of lifestyle products, the ProBasics value-oriented line of products no longer fits within the company’s strategy to focus on solutions that bring greater benefits for clinically complex conditions and post-acute care,” Invacare President and CEO Matthew E. Monaghan said. “This divestiture represents another step in our transformation toward using our technical leadership and resources more productively.”

Invacare’s products are primarily distributed to home medical equipment providers, rehabilitation facilities and residential care providers. By focusing more on product categories that can make a difference in complex cases, Invacare said it can better position the company for growth.

In an investor presentation a month ago, Invacare executives laid out a three-phase transformation plan that includes reassessing and reorienting the business, building and realigning the company and growth.

By 2019, Invacare should be in the growth phase. The expected results of this phase include sales of more than $1 billion annually.

Mahoney said the company also is working through the process outlined in a 2012 consent decree with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration that has limited production. Earlier this year, the FDA told Invacare it needed to do more work including completing the remediation of certain design history files.

The files deal with the complete design history of a finished medical device and has been a requirement of medical device manufacturers since 1990 when Congress passed the Safe Medical Devices Act.

“We are making a lot of great progress, and we need to demonstrate that progress to the FDA,” Mahoney said.

The consent decree process included three mandated third-party certifications and subsequent FDA audits. Invacare has successfully completed two of the three audits.

Invacare is a publically traded company seen as IVC on the New York Stock Exchange. Stock closed Friday at $10.43 a share.

Contact Lisa Roberson at 329-7121 or lroberson@chroniclet.com. Follow her on Twitter @LisaRobersonCT.



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