Designing Wheelchair Vans for My Toughest Critic
It's the responsibility of the BraunAbility engineering team when designing wheelchair vans, to create safe, dependable, and attractive products for our customers. From reliable wheelchair ramps to crash-test compliancy to comfortable passenger rides, our customers' safety and satisfaction is our greatest motivation. It's especially motivating for me because I know my work as a BraunAbility engineer is being scrutinized daily by two very intimidating critics: my in-laws!
My wife's parents have been BraunAbility Entervan owners for over 15 years. When I became an engineer at BraunAbility in 2003, I knew I'd been given a unique opportunity such as the chance to continually impress my in-laws and become their favorite son-in-law.
Granted, I am their only son-in-law, but still, knowing that my father-in-law relies on his BraunAbility Entervan for his day-to-day independence gives a very personal face to our customers. Because they use their vehicle on a daily basis, they offer suggestions that are very helpful in trying to meet and exceed customer expectations.
As a frequent driver and passenger in their wheelchair van, I have the unique opportunity to experience our Entervans as many of our mainstream customers do. I've been along for the ride while navigating through stop-and-go Chicago traffic, plowing through ice and snow on the interstate, and weaving through the Smoky Mountains. I've even watched my mother-in-law drive over a curb, well, maybe this isn't the best place to criticize her driving decisions. The point is, I've been with my in-laws through all kinds of driving circumstances, from mundane to extreme, and the feedback and advice they have is honest and helpful.
My motivation is taken one step further knowing my three young children are frequent passengers in their grandparents' wheelchair van. Taking part in designing wheelchair vans like the first side-entry lowered floor to pass a 50-mph rear-impact crash test was especially important to me because I know it could be my children sitting in the back of that Entervan.
I'll admit it's a precarious position, but it's a win-win-win for BraunAbility, my in-laws, and me. As long as we keep working to design the safest, most reliable handicap ramp vans on the market, I can proudly stand behind my work as a BraunAbility engineer. And most importantly, my in-laws will be happy.