Nothing coy about Ki

Saturday, March 31, 2007

STEVENS POINT, Wis. - Ki Mobility has an ambitious yet simple mission: "to design the lightest and most energy efficient folding wheelchair available on the market--while being price competitive." The trick now for the company, whose name in Latin means "to set in motion," is to show providers that that's the case.
The start-up, headed by two ex-Quickie employees, debuted its line of three folding chairs, the Catalyst, at Medtrade last fall but it just recently ramped up its sales team and plans to hit the market in force. The Catalyst comes in a K0005 version (a 23-pound chair with 45 seat configurations and nine color options) and two K0004 models (one highly configurable, the other limited).
With the Catalyst line, Ki set out to develop a sort of hybrid chair: a product that combines the convenience and portability of a folding chair, but that is more rigid than competing chairs--and thus better performing, said President Doug Munsey.
The company imports components from Europe and China and assembles the chairs in Stevens Point, Wis.
When it comes to this highly competitive market, "we'll try to be as price competitive as possible, but most importantly, from our end, is to offer a better performing product," Munsey said. "If we can do that, we hope people will chose our product."
Unlike the lower end of the market, where price holds more weight, with Ki's higher-end ultra-light products, performance plays an equally important role, he said.
"If a provider can make 60% (profit) on my chair and 63% on something else, they are probably going to focus more on what is the right product for the customer," Munsey said.
Prior to starting the company, Munsey worked five years as a rehab provider and then 16 years for Quickie and Sunrise Medical in various capacities, including sales rep, product manager and vice president of marketing. His partner at Ki, Murray Slagerman, worked six years at Otto Bock as a sales and design engineer; he later worked seven years at Quickie as design engineer, engineering manager and manager of advanced development.
The company plans to develop additional products, including a K0005 rigid wheelchair, seat cushions and backs, Munsey said.