Designer Of New, Light-weight Wheelchairs In Search Of
January 6, 2006
BEAUFORT, NORTH CAROLINA--Tuesday's Beaufort Gazette featured a story about a local wheelchair company that is trying to break into the market with a light-weight wheelchair made of plastic.
The Turbo Wheelchair Company used a National Institutes of Health grant a few years ago to design foldable Merlexi Craft chairs made of high-strength resin.
According to the company's website, the chairs are sturdier, more modern-looking, and more durable than their metal-framed counterparts. The company claims they can also be taken underwater and are easier to hoist into the trunks of cars.
Despite the advantages, the company has only sold 20 units in the past two years.
One critic points out that the slow sales might have to do with the chairs' cost: The Liberty I, which weighs 33 pounds, costs $846, while the 30 pound Liberty II has a $995 price tag.
The company's president, Jane Hermes, said it's tough to compete with firms that provide traditional, institutional-looking chairs because they have large government contracts.
"Local wheelchair manufacturer looks for an edge in competitive market" (Beaufort Gazette)