Invacare Corp announced that it will not participate in either of the Medtrade shows in 2008 (Medtrade Spring in Long Beach, Calif, and Medtrade Fall in Atlanta). Citing the changing needs of its customers, the Elyria, Ohio-based manufacturer will instead shift its resources to specialized trade shows and more customer-oriented training activities. “Over the past several years, the HME industry has changed and so have the needs of our customers,” said Carl Will, group vice president, HME division. “We have had to evolve our product selections and services to better meet those needs, and now our trade show plans for 2008 reflect the new business model as well.”

According to a company press release, Invacare’s realigned resources will focus on three main components: 1) supporting state and regional provider associations through resources and education; 2) improving customer education; and 3) participating in specialized (rehab and respiratory) shows.

Invacare’s decision follows a similar move earlier this year from Lebanon, Tenn-based manufacturer Permobil. Permobil officials decided to forego Medtrade Spring next year due to what they perceived as poor attendance at their Medtrade Orlando booth. Medtrade officials reported attendance of more than 13,000 at this year’s Orlando show. “On average, Medtrade has an attendance of about 15,000,” said Barry Steelman, marketing manager at Permobil in a recent issue of Friday Report. “We will see maybe 1,000 people while we are there. We asked: Is there a better way we can reach our providers and give them more education about Permobil and its products?”

Unlike Invacare, officials at Permobil opted to host their own rehab summit in the spring of 2008—with Nashville, Tenn, as the likely location. Crafted specifically for Permobil’s certified provider network, company officials hope the event will give them a chance to present information in a more direct setting than a typical tradeshow.

Medtrade show director Kevin M. Bird (Nielsen Business Media) said that commitments from other large manufacturers remain unchanged at this time, and he harbors no ill will toward Invacare. "We put together some opportunities for them [Invacare], but they decided to go another direction," said Bird. "I applaud and support Invacare’s lobbying efforts on behalf of the industry. Mr. Mixon and Mr. Will are both extremely focused individuals who are looking to drive the success of both Invacare and the industry as a whole. It is not my place to question the rationale behind a business decision that was made. I wish them nothing but success for 2008 in their endeavors."