Etac Announces New North American President

Ryan B. Williams, a healthcare industry veteran, has been named the new North American president for Etac, which also puts him in charge of the Convaid and R82 brands for North America. 

A late-April news announcement said Williams would report directly to Etac CEO Torben Helbo.

A Career in Healthcare

In an interview with Mobility Management, Williams — a Texas native and University of Oklahoma graduate who moved to California after grad school — described a career dedicated to healthcare.

“I began my career with Kaiser Permanente in Orange County,” he said. “I ran a lot of doctors’ offices and all the outpatient services for Orange County. Then I worked in hospital management and eventually was CEO of a hospital with a company called Avera Health out of Sioux Falls, S.D.”

Then his career took him into the technology segment of healthcare.

“About 10 years ago, I was recruited to run a medical device company based out of Irvine, Calif., called Passy-Muir,” he said. “We made tracheostomy products. I ran Passy-Muir for about seven and a half years, and one of my passions was developing a product that helps people who can’t swallow after stroke, neck cancer, Parkinson’s, and all kinds of neurological diseases. Patients have difficulty swallowing and end up with feeding tubes.”

Williams said he left Passy-Muir to continue developing that product, which is still in the launch process. “But in January or so, I decided I wanted to get back into running companies rather than just focusing on one thing. This opportunity came up, and what I’m excited about is it’s similar to the products we made at Passy-Muir, which are really important to the patients who use them and the connection that you have with those patients. All of the Etac, R82, Convaid products are extremely instrumental in people’s lives and helping them live more normal lives when they have mobility issues.”

The Transition Process

In January, Helbo took over the North American sales management for former Etac North American President Chris Braun, who had previously led Convaid.

In the search for a new president, Helbo said, “We were looking for [someone] with distinct leadership qualities, with distinct people skills. We need someone who’s able to understand the way this industry works, the dynamics of our industry and someone who can lead teams in all the functions that we’re performing. That’s sales, always important, of course. That’s marketing, which is supporting sales. It’s product development, and it’s also manufacturing. And still, we are in the process of merging our activities between R82 and Convaid, and there’s still a lot to do in relation to being more efficient in the way we work together and the way we are addressing the market.”

Helbo said previous experience in healthcare wasn’t a requirement, but acknowledged, “It is of course beneficial to have someone who understands the market, and Ryan, in addition to his experience in running a med-tech company, has experience on the hospital side and from how purchasing is structured and how that area works. We believe that will come in very beneficial for Etac.” Williams has a busy travel schedule upcoming, as he attends events such as the Abilities Expo and meets his sales force.

“I’ve been meeting the team and understanding all the different products and where their niche is,” he said. “Bringing together companies that were separate entities into a cohesive unit in North America and trying to expand R82 and Etac products into the United States and then continue on with the success that Convaid has here. I’ll have quite a bit of time in the field with our sales reps, understanding their processes and how they work with our dealers and patients.”

Williams said he’s also looking forward to meeting clinicians and ATPs, and expanding their educational opportunities.

“I don’t know that I could’ve had a more perfect background for coming into this opportunity,” he said.

About the Author

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

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