Invacare Corp. (NYSE:IVC) CEO A. Malachi Mixon III, a name synonymous with the company since he bought it with his life savings in 1979, is stepping down from his chief executive post but will stay on as chairman.
Gerald Blouch, who’s been working as interim CEO of the home health products maker since April, will succeed Mixon in the chief executive role. Blouch joined Invacare in 1990 as its first chief financial officer and became chief operating officer in 1994, according to a statement from the company.
“This promotion is well-deserved for the outstanding job Gerry has done in managing the business operations of the company,” Mixon said in the statement. “Gerry has the board’s and my full confidence in his role as CEO."
Mixon took medical leave from Invacare in April after suffering a mild stroke. He took up his chairman’s duties again at the end of July.
Mixon’s dropping the CEO title hardly comes as a surprise. In the company’s second-quarter earnings statement in July, he said he intended to come back as chairman but made no mention of the CEO role.
In Mixon’s absence, it’s largely been business as usual for the company. In the nine months ended Sept. 30, the company’s profits have dropped 23 percent while sales have risen 2 percent, compared to the like period last year.
Mixon grew up in Oklahoma and used all of his savings — $10,000 — to buy Invacare from Johnson & Johnson’s (NYSE:JNJ) Technicare unit in 1979. He and a group of investors paid $7.8 million for the sleepy Elyria company that made wheelchairs. Mixon, who had been marketing vice president for Technicare, took over as CEO.
Mixon woke up the company, taking it public in 1984 at $11 a share and led it through two decades of growth until U.S. government reimbursement pressures and low-cost Asian manufacturing forced a regrouping in the mid-2000s.
Invacare turned another financial corner about two years ago, recapturing its position as an industry low-cost producer by sourcing many of its parts and products in low-cost countries, making its own products at two Chinese factories, and streamlining the way it makes products.