Invacare Founder Mixon Passes Away

A shrewd business leader and HME pioneer, ‘Mal’ Mixon’s life was marked by tireless industry advocacy efforts and dedication to the ideal of ‘making life’s experiences possible.’

Former President, CEO and Chairman of DME manufacturing giant Invacare Corp., A. Malachi “Mal” Mixon III passed away at the age of 80 on Monday.

A well-known leader in the industry, Mixon’s health had been ailing for the past year. He passed away at the Cleveland Clinic, according to a report from the Cleveland Plain Dealer.

Nearly synonymous with his company, Mixon purchased Invacare in a leveraged buyout in 1979. As president and CEO, he then grew Invacare from a regional wheelchair maker with revenues of $19 million to a global multiline DME manufacturers with revenues of nearly $2 billion.

Industry Advocacy & Leadership

During that growth, Mixon became heavily involved in legislative and regulatory issues impacting HME providers and took an active role in helping lead the industry.

“I realized nobody was representing my industry in Washington,” Mixon explained in his autobiography. “So I started to get active, holding fundraisers and so on. I got involved deeper and deeper. I became close to some politicians — both Democrats and Republicans. I just wanted them to see the issues as I saw them.”

Mixon’s efforts were so pervasive that after his December 2014 retirement from Invacare, various lawmakers such as then Speaker of the House of Representatives Rep. John Boehner (R-Ohio) lauded Mixon when the American Association presented him with a Legislative Advocate Lifetime Achievement Award during its 2015 Washington Legislative Conference.

An Eventful Life

Mixon was born in 1940 in Spiro, Okla., and grew up enjoying sports and music. He met his wife-to-be, Barbara, while attending Harvard College, where he was a member of the Navy ROTC.

After graduating, he married Barbara, was commissioned as 2nd Lieutenant in the Marine Corps, and began four years of service, including a year in Vietnam, according to his obituary. He then returned to Harvard to earn his MBA, and began his career in business, which ultimately led to his LBO of Invacare.

After suffering a mild stroke in 2010, Mixon stepped down from his role as Invacare’s CEO in 2011, but remained Chairman of its board of directors until his 2014 retirement. (And even then, Mixon continued his responsibilities as a non-employee member of the company’s board until its 2015 annual meeting.)

A Grateful Industry 

With the news still fresh, various members of the industry began sharing their feelings about Mixon online:

“Mal was a pioneer in our industry who helped so many people. He led in growth and innovation,” Invacare Chairman, President and CEO Matt Monaghan noted. “He was a tireless advocate of the industry and supporter of providers everywhere. He was an especially strong ally of all those who rely on our products to ‘make life’s experiences possible.’… Our prayers are with his wife and family.”

“Mal was an Industry icon who gave more than anyone I know to this industry,” AAHomecare President and CEO Tom Ryan said. “He was a mentor and friend.”

Mixon is survived by wife Barbara; daughter Elizabeth Mixon Lafave; son A. Malachi IV; and grandchildren Trip, Charlie, Katie and Christian Ewig; Aubrey and Riley Mixon; step-grandchildren Ben and Bryce Lafave; sister Janis Sawyer; and his dog Lexi.

About the Author

David Kopf is the Publisher and Executive Editor of HME Business and DME Pharmacy magazines. Follow him on Twitter at @postacutenews.

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