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Invacare to cut 110 jobs

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    Invacare's Taylor Street headquarters is shown in 2012.

    CHRONICLE FILE

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ELYRIA — Layoffs hit the Invacare Corporation Thursday, roughly six weeks after the medical equipment manufacturer hosted an on-site job fair.

Company spokeswoman Lara Mahoney said Invacare reduced 110 positions across North America including about 50 associates from its Elyria/North Ridgeville campus. The jobs were administrative, managerial and customer-service related.

The layoffs did not affect the Taylor Street hourly associates. Those working in the plant were saved from cuts because the power-wheelchair production facility is producing profitable products.

“We have had a lot of good things happen this year in line with our transformation and the big thing is we are now able to sell from our Taylor Street facility freely,” Mahoney said. “We have launched new products that are doing very well, including our new TDX SP2 power wheelchair and the new portable oxygen concentrator we launched earlier this year. There is a lot of momentum happening, but overall our North America business in not back to profitability, so we have to align our business with our sales level.”

Invacare employs about 550 people locally. Its employee numbers were once upwards of 1,000 people. That was before Dec. 21, 2012, when the U.S. Food and Drug Administration rocked the manufacturer by essentially reducing production down to idle.

The FDA and Invacare entered into a consent decree, which stemmed from violations found during FDA inspections between 2002 and 2012. It called for Invacare to stop manufacturing, designing and distributing manual and powered wheelchairs and components at its Elyria facilities until it met certain standards.

Nearly five years later Invacare announced it had met the last standards and satisfied the federal government’s requirements. Many saw the July news as a sign of good things to come.

Invacare estimates the layoffs will result in approximately $8.5 million in annualized pre-tax savings.

“Invacare is making good progress in its North America transformation. This reduction in force, while difficult, is an essential part of the second phase of our transformation toward becoming a more-sustainably profitable, growing business,” said Matthew E. Monaghan, chairman, president and chief executive officer. “We are realigning our North America infrastructure with our new sales levels and finding more efficient ways to do business.”

Invacare 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. These products are primarily distributed to home medical equipment providers, rehabilitation facilities and residential care providers. Gone are the days when Invacare had its hand in everything from canes and crutches to walkers and bath chairs.

Mahoney said the timing of the layoffs could not be helped as the company is looking at the year end and ways it can adjust cost levels going into 2018.

“Its never an easy or right time to have a reduction like this, and we do have separation benefits available for associates that are impacted,” she said.

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



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