BraunAbility is an American manufacturer of wheelchair accessible vans and wheelchair lifts based in Winamac, Indiana.[1] It is currently owned by Investor AB. The company was founded by Ralph Braun, who had spinal muscular atrophy. Braun designed a wheelchair lift and steering controls, which allowed him to drive a 1970 converted full size Dodge van.[2] He began converting vans to sell to others. As sales grew, Braun was able to acquire Independent Mobility Systems. [3] IMS had previously been the largest manufacturer of wheelchair minivans. [4] Braun also acquired the Viewpoint Mobility line of wheelchair minivans. [3] Company sales have grown to $200 million per year.[2]

HistoryEdit

1963: Braun builds his first three-wheel motorized scooter in his cousin's farm shop. He later named this scooter the "Tri-Wheeler".

1963: Braun begins selling the Tri-Wheeler to others out of his parent's garage under the name Save-A-Step Manufacturing Company.

1966: Ralph's employer relocates further from his home making it impractical to ride his Tri-Wheeler to work. He equips old Post Office Jeep with a hydraulic tailgate lift and homemade hand controls.

1969: Save-A-Step outgrows the Braun's garage and moves to the John Deere/Singer building in downtown Winamac.

1970: Chrysler introduces the full-sze van. Braun builds the precursor to the Lift-A-Way Wheelchair Lift to fit this revolutionary vehicle.

1972: Save-A-Step Manufacturing Company incorporates as The Braun Corporation with five employees.

1974: Braun expands the main production building and additional buildings are constructed to meet the growing demand of lifts and Tri-Wheelers.

1976: A fiberglass operation is purchased to build Tri-Wheeler covers. Portable restrooms and roll-in wheelchair-accessible shower stalls would soon be added to the production line.

1977: The Clearwater, Florida division is established.

1978: The Huntington Beach, CA division is established.

1979: A devastating fire sweeps through the Braun Corporate Headquarters. The aftermath reveals an office and production facility gutted by the blaze.

1980: The manufacturing facility is rebuilt and new offices are constructed.

1981: Braun introduces the innovative Chair Topper car-top wheelchair carrier.

1982: The L19 External Lift is introduced. Plant 2 is opened in the Fitz Beverage Building.

1986: The Fairfield, New Jersey division is established.

1987: The 6-Way Power Transfer Seat Base is introduced.

1988: The European office is established in Oslo, Norway.

1989: To meet growing demand, Braun invests heavily in new manufacturing technologies and facilities. Plant 3 opens, drastically increasing Braun's capabilities.

1991: The Braun Entervan is introduced, offering unparalleled ease of access for wheelchair users. This innovative vehicle soon became the flagship of Braun's mobility line. It was equipped with a ramp and kneel system and removable front seats which allowed the chair user to enter the vehicle independently and drive from their wheelchair.

2015: Patricia Industries, a subsidiary of Investor AB, acquires BraunAbility.[5]

BraunAbility makes vans that have side entry ramps, as well as models with rear entry ramps. Vans are available with powered ramps, or with manual ramps for people on a smaller budget. Vans are sold through a network of over 200 dealers in the United States and Canada. BraunAbility products are also sold in many countries in South America, Europe, Africa and Asia.

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ The Indiana Economic Development Corp. (2013-08-12). "Wheelchair Vehicle Manufacturer Growing in Indiana - Newsroom - Inside INdiana Business with Gerry Dick" (Press release). Insideindianabusiness.com. Archived from the original on 2014-10-05. Retrieved 2015-04-27.
  2. ^ a b "How I Did It: Ralph Braun of BraunAbility". Inc.com. Retrieved 12 April 2015.
  3. ^ a b MT Staff Writer. "Manufacturing Today - The Braun Corp". manufacturing-today.com. Archived from the original on 27 April 2015. Retrieved 12 April 2015.
  4. ^ "Independent Mobility Systems - Rampvan - Transfer Seat - Liftvan". imsvans.com. Archived from the original on 2 February 2001. Retrieved 12 April 2015.
  5. ^ "Investor acquires BraunAbility – the U.S. market leader in automobile mobility products". 2015-09-23. Retrieved 2018-12-09.

Braun, Ralph W., 2010, Rise Above: How One Man's Search for Mobility Helped the World Get Moving. Winamac, IN. The Braun Corporation | 57 | 978-0-9843380-0-9.

External linksEdit