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New Solutions enters new chapter

New Solutions enters new chapter

Phil CunninghamRIVERSIDE, Calif. – New Solutions, a wheelchair and scooter parts supplier, has a new owner and a new home. 

Co-owners Leonard Graves and Nick Hambrick, both quadriplegics, started the company out of a garage in California in 1992 when, frustrated with too many flat tires, they figured out a way to build flat-free inserts (See related story below). Now looking to retire, they’ve sold the company to Phil Cunningham, formerly of Invacare. 

“They’re neat guys and it’s just really a neat story,” said Cunningham, now the company’s president. 

Cunningham started working for Invacare in 1999 and left the company in 2017 as the director of the HME and long-term care business channels. Most recently, he was vice president of sales and marketing at Mansfield Plumbing, a manufacturer of toilets, sinks, tubs and more. 

New Solutions is keeping its name but moving to a 40,000-square-foot warehouse in Norwalk, Ohio, where Cunningham is based. Two employees are staying on with the company on a contract basis. 

“I want to honor Len and Nick’s legacy by being even more of a solution for the industry than it’s ever been,” he said. 

New Solutions will continue to carry about 2,000 wheelchair and scooter SKUs – everything from flat-free inserts to subassemblies of Spinergy tries to custom upholstery to accessories – but will expand into certain respiratory parts, Cunningham said. 

“We’ll get into some bulk respiratory parts,” he said. “Brand new sieve beds and valves – things like that.” 

New Solutions will also invest in technology to make the company even easier to do business with, Cunningham says. 

“We’ve already set up an online portal for customers for placing orders or paying invoices,” he said. “In the future, there will be a mobile app to make identifying and ordering parts easier.” 

Additionally, New Solutions will “do what we can to give back to the community of wheelchair users,” Cunningham says. 

“It’s a great business where you’re helping people and you can be philanthropic with it,” he said. “You can be part of people’s lives. I miss that.”  

‘You beat them with price and keep them with service’ 

 Leonard Graves says he and Nick Hambrick have had “a good run,” but at 65 and 72 years old, respectively, it was time to sell New Solutions to Phil Cunningham. 

“I’ll probably still give advice and support to Phil to make sure New Solutions stays at the top,” Graves said. “I’m sure he’s the man to do it.” 

Here’s what Graves had to say about 30 years in business selling aftermarket parts for wheelchairs and scooters. 

The role of destiny 

Graves and Hambrick, both quadriplegics from car accidents since they were 20 and 16, respectively, met when Hambrick was running a nonprofit that helped get quadriplegics out of nursing homes. 

“So, I was one of his clients and we ended up making a friendship that has lasted 50 years,” Graves said. 

A fizzle then a bang 

Graves and Hambrick started the business over their mutual desire to find a way to overcome frequent flat tires. 

“We started out with one product, puncture-proof tubes, but that fizzled out because we couldn’t get consistent supplies,” Graves said. “Then we were at Medtrade West and ran into the distributor who had the exclusive for Primo Wheelchair Tires in North America. We started marketing those and before you knew it we had thousands of different products. We were the tire experts at first, then we became the experts at everything else. If you wanted a wheelchair repair, we had the parts.” 

Stiff competition 

How has New Solutions competed against larger parts distributors over the years? Better prices and better service, Graves says. 

“You beat them with price and keep them with service,” he said. “If you called in an order before 2 in the afternoon, we would ship your part that day. We’re both quads. We know it might not seem like an emergency, but if you’re someone who’s laying in bed because your wheelchair has a flat tire, that’s an emergency.”


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