Ortho-Kinetics files to liquidate assets

Sunday, February 23, 2003

February 24, 2003

WAUKESHA, Wisc. - Ortho-Kinetics, a pioneering lift-chair manufacturer and scooter dealer that reigned as a powerhouse in the 1980s, has filed papers to liquidate its assets in state court. The court on Jan. 31 appointed a receiver under Chapter 128. In the meantime, the company is looking for a buyer.

Ortho-Kinetics’ demise cannot be traced to one shattering blow, but to a combination of forces that eroded the company’s position as a $40 million player in the 1980s to a mere sliver of its former self that some believed had disappeared already.

The company’s direct-to-end-user Lark (scooter) division, according to industry watchers, has been a major factor in the company’s downward spiral. Although Lark, by some accounts, has done well, Ortho-Kinetics’ attempts to sell mobility products as both a supplier and a wholesaler has been troublesome, say industry watchers.

The problem with direct scooter sales, said one manufacturer, is the absence of a dealer network to handle maintenance issues on products that require regular service. While Electric Mobility Corp. recently abandoned its dealer base in favor of direct sales, other scooter manufacturers, like Amigo and No Boundaries, are making new commitments to the traditional dealer network model.

Ortho-Kinetics also fell behind the times when it came to product innovation. Their products were not competitively priced.

Management turnover in the 1990s took its toll. Today, the company is run by the founder’s, Ed Gaffney, daughter, Ann LaMarche.