Sunrise Medical: New Owner to Support Current Growth Path

Following last week's announcement that Sunrise Medical had been acquired by Equistone Partners Europe, Sunrise President/CEO Thomas Rossnagel said the new owner "is prepared and very capable to support us with their resources, advice and financial capacity as we execute our growth strategy."

Sunrise announced Nov. 6 that Equistone had purchased its global mobility and seating business and called Equistone "one of Europe's leading investors in mid-market buyouts."

The news announcement added that the deal was subject to approval of anti-trust authorities and was expected to be completed by the end of the year.

In an interview with Mobility Management, Rossnagel responded to questions about whether the ownership change would impact Sunrise's product niche. The manufacturer currently focuses on complex seating & mobility, but would it be expanding into other product categories, such as consumer power mobility?

"Sunrise Medical has developed and implemented a clear focus on its core mobility and seating segments, globally," Rossnagel said. "Today, our business is growing based on an extremely focused product offering and road map. For example, we have brought more new product to the market over the past 18 months than the aggregate of our core domestic competitors.

"This successful execution of new product introductions is a result of the razor focus we apply as an organization on our core product lines and strong brands: Quickie, JAY, Zippie and Breezy."

Rossnagel added that the complex rehab technology niche "offers us significantly more room for expansion, product and geographically wise."

Plenty of Room to Grow

As an example of having plenty of room to grow within complex rehab, Rossnagel pointed out, "We are working on expanding our pediatric offering, both via new products we have under development, as well as potential acquisitions in this category. The entire area of pediatric therapy devices for children is only one of many pediatric segments we are exploring.

"Also, we have developed detailed plans for all of our other core segments in adult manual, power wheelchairs as well as JAY seating/custom seating."

But Rossnagel also acknowledged that other Sunrise products do well internationally.

"Sunrise Medical is very successful with our geriatric wheelchair offering, our scooter product lines and a few other product lines that we don't offer in the U.S. today," he said. "For this reason, I don't want to rule out expanding our offering domestically in the future.

"What I can confirm though to you is that our focus on today's core business will remain at the levels of which our therapists, providers and end users applaud us and support us."

And Rossnagel showed little interest in entering certain product frays.

"If we would expand into other product categories, we would only do this with a premium product line tailored to the specific needs of the user and customers we serve and backed by an innovative and comprehensive service offering to support it," he explained. "We have no plans today to compete in the high-volume, purely price-driven segments."

Building on Strengths to Move Forward

Rossnagel said Sunrise's product pipeline "will continue to be strong going forward, as it has been in the past two years," and said R&D investment levels "are right for whom we are today."

But he said he would not hesitate to invest more "where it makes good business sense."

Rossnagel said he does not expect changes in Sunrise management: "Quite the contrary, Sunrise Medical is positioned for continued growth and success under the leadership of this management team!"

As for providers and clinicians who work with Sunrise, Rossnagel said they'd see no impact on day-to-day operations.

"There is no reason to be concerned whatsoever. None of the day-to-day operations will change or be adversely impacted in any shape or form for our customers based on our ownership change."

About the Author

Laurie Watanabe is the editor of Mobility Management. She can be reached at lwatanabe@1105media.com.

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