5 Minutes With Eric Simoneau
Motion Composites’ CEO Eric Simoneau (right) with business partner David Gingras, COO.
Of the projects I’m working on, I’m most excited by… First, at ISS [International Seating Symposium], we are launching two new wheelchairs and three new accessories that we’ve been working on for a long time. Second, in 2018 we are celebrating our 10th anniversary — the 10th birthday of Motion Composites. And third, we started working with brand ambassadors. We give them wheelchairs, and they ride through the world, talking about the company. We’ve had Marty Ball for a few years, but now Bob Vogel is one of them, and Jérémy Landry in Quebec. I want to grow that Motion Composites army, that street team, more and more. At ISS, it’s the first time we’ll have three ambassadors in the booth. That’s a new direction we’re taking, and I really enjoy that.
Of the challenges facing CRT right now, I’m most concerned about... I won’t talk about funding, because everybody knows funding is a problem. I think something else that happens because of funding is less and less choice. Less and less voice for the user. It’s a serious concern because as the funding is getting tighter, people go back to very simplistic solutions, and they forget the end user might want something different.
The technology segment I’m most intrigued by is… the new wave of all kinds of power assist. There are a couple of great power assists that already exist, but there are also tons of new power assists that are only in Europe. That’s very exciting. With all these European products that we don’t have in North America, I feel like there’s a great opportunity there.
What the industry needs most right now is… I would like to see more technology, more new products. It looks like the products in our industry are kind of aging. It’s always the same products that get revamped a little bit, but there’s no big breakthrough. We need newer ideas. We need more start-up companies. We need younger entrepreneurs that bring a new way of thinking and bring new solutions to the same old problems.
What I wish I could change about the industry: I think the industry needs more new products, and I wish the industry would be more open to embracing what’s new and exciting, and that more people would be early adopters or more interested in turning toward newer technologies, newer ideas.
My favorite thing about the CRT industry is... we truly make a difference in people’s lives. Changing and improving people’s lives is a terrible TV tagline. Every industry is saying they’re changing people’s lives. Home appliance manufacturers will say that their dishwasher will change your life.
But our industry is truly changing people’s lives. We see it when we get new employees from other industries. One example is Steve, our training specialist. He was the head of training for huge national brands in Canada — Bell and Coca-Cola Canada. When he jumped on board, he wanted something different and he wanted something with meaning. Since he came in, we’ve done several crazy stunts, like — people who’ve gotten their wheelchairs stolen. We read that in the newspaper, called that person, and we gave them a new carbon fiber wheelchair. It truly changes their lives. There’s not a lot of industries where you can have that profound an impact on people. We embrace that portion of the job so much. We put together a Wishes for Wheels program, and we’re giving away wheelchairs. We’re giving four chairs a year because it’s beautiful and it’s fun.
I really admire... Marty Ball, because he’s seen it all. He was there at the beginning of Sunrise [Medical], the beginning of TiLite, at the launch of Motion Composites. He’s got that crazy energy, he doesn’t want to stop working, he’s a true inspiration, and he cares so much. The other is David Harding. He built three companies and he’s still there kicking the tires at every tradeshow, having fun, and building companies one after the other. I have a lot of respect for that.
In five years, I hope to be... doing exactly what I’m doing today: Supporting our company with a passion.
The last great meal I had was… at the [January] Numotion conference in Houston, the restaurant Xochi at the Marriott Marquis. We went there twice in three days.
I want to be remembered by this industry for... pushing the limits of technology. It’s really what Motion Composites strives to be — a technological leader — and that’s how I want people to remember me.
This article originally appeared in the March 2018 issue of Mobility Management.