Ki Mobility packs one-two punch

‘More and more customers are looking to get their seating and wheelchair from the same supplier’
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Friday, January 19, 2018

STEVENS POINT, Wis. – In less than a year, Ki Mobility has gone from no direct presence in the seating market, to covering two of three product categories.

Ki Mobility announced last week that it has acquired the custom seating business of Burnet, Texas-based Stealth Products and is transitioning the business to its headquarters, here, to streamline ordering and improve delivery time.

“More and more customers are looking to get their seating and wheelchair from the same supplier,” said Tom Whelan, vice president of product development for Ki Mobility, primarily a manufacturer of complex manual wheelchairs in the folding, rigid and tilt product categories.

Previously, Ki Mobility launched its first offering in the seating market, the Axiom cushion line, in the summer of 2017. Now it has offerings in the configured (Stealth) and packaged (Axiom) product categories.

With Stealth’s seating business, Ki Mobility gets a mature product line with a loyal customer base. A big reason Ki Mobility decided to buy Stealth’s seating business was the outcry from its customers when the company announced late last year that it would be exiting the market.

“Rather than kill the product line, we decided to move it from them to us,” Whelan said. “Had this opportunity not come up, we may have not entered the market at this time, though we possibly would have in the future. But we have a good working relationship with Stealth.”

Stealth decided to sell the custom seating business due to reductions in reimbursement and increases in production costs, but it’s still committed to the complex rehab market, as a whole, with a wide range of positioning products for the whole body, alternative controls and a new cushion line set to launch in February.

“The plan is to refocus on developing innovative solutions for positioning issues,” said Lorenzo Romero, president. “That’s what we have built our reputation on, so that’s what we’re focusing on. There are many, many things we’re still offering as a company, minus this one particular line.”

As to whether or not Ki Mobility will now seek opportunities in the third product category in the seating market, custom-molded, Whelan would only say, “Our strategic plan is to go down the path of diversifying our product line, while staying in the complex rehab market.”

Ki Mobility’s acquisition of Stealth’s seating business follows a number of deals in the market in recent months. In November, Ki Mobility announced it would be the exclusive distributor of U.K.-based Leckey pediatric seating products in North America; and earlier this month, Permobil announced it would acquire the custom seating businesses of Ottobock.

“I think what we’re seeing is normal maturation,” Whelan said. “It used to be when you bought a car you had to go to the tire store for mag wheels and the audio shop for a high-end stereo. Now cars are manufactured with those options. These are cottage industries that have grown up.”