As you may have heard, Sonova Group, owners of Phonak and Unitron, has chosen not to extend our supply agreement. We pride ourselves on our integrity and transparency and believe it is important to clarify how we arrived at this point. We also want you to understand why you heard about this announcement from Sonova before hearing from Fuel.
We reached out in late 2021 to the Sonova management team to begin discussions on a new supply agreement as our existing five-year contract was scheduled to expire in March of 2022. As we approached the expiration date, Sonova repeatedly assured us of their commitment to a new agreement and thanked us for our patience. In March they offered a month-to-month extension to allow them time to work on a new agreement; however, between March and September 15th, we were only able to communicate directly with the Vice President of Commercial Sales on two occasions. Both of those interactions were brief and positive in nature.
At the end of August, Sonova reduced the duration of the extension to one week. We were re-assured that the shorter duration was to create urgency with their team to complete the contract and documents would arrive shortly for our review. Yesterday afternoon at 1:30 PM PST we received a request from Sonova for a meeting at 5:00 PM PST. Despite months of good faith effort on our part, we were told that our agreement would not be renewed and that our supply relationship would expire immediately. No reason was given.
To provide perspective, all our supply agreements including the existing agreement with Sonova contain written termination notice provisions of 120 to 180 days. We require this to prevent disruption in your practice and to allow for a professional transition in the event we or a partner wishes to terminate a relationship. It is unfortunate for all of us that Sonova did not provide any advance notice of its intent to terminate its relationship with Fuel Medical.
So where do we go from here? Going forward it is business as usual at Fuel. As the largest practice support resource in the industry, we will continue to provide exceptional services and guidance to your practice. Oticon, ReSound, Signia, Sonic, Starkey and Widex remain steadfast in their support of Fuel and our mission to support you in delivering the highest quality care to your patients. Here is what a few of them have said when they learned the news:
Mike O’Neil, President – Signia USA
“Signia’s relationship with Fuel is one that we value and look forward to continuing to grow in the coming years. They do exactly what they say they will do in our partnership. That level of integrity is not easy to find in business and we stand behind them and their independent practitioners.”
Søren Hvidberg Nielsen, President – Widex USA
“When manufacturers, practice development groups and your practice put patient care at the forefront, business results will follow. That is what Widex has always done and will continue to do alongside you and our partners at Fuel.”
Gary Rosenblum, President – Oticon USA
“Here at Oticon we have always been philosophically aligned with Fuel Medical in that we believe you – the hearing care professional in the medical model – provide the best care for patients. Over our 12-year relationship with Fuel Medical, we have seen them consistently deliver services that grow the medical channel in a way that benefits practices and patients, and we are proud to continue supporting that.”
Mikkel Knudsen, President – ReSound USA
“Fuel Medical has been and continues to be a fantastic resource for your practice. We at ReSound strongly support any and all resources that will help independent ENTs, Audiologists and Hearing Instrument Specialists succeed in today’s challenging healthcare market.”
If you have any questions, please contact your regional manager. Thank you for your continued support.