VMI experiences 'perfect storm of positive things'

Thursday, July 22, 2010

PHOENIX, Ariz. - Vantage Mobility International (VMI), a provider of wheelchair accessible vehicles, is riding the coattails of the Honda Odyssey.

VMI announced in June that it has increased its workforce by 25% to meet the demand for its converted version of the popular minivan.

"Our sales are up about 23% year over year and it's mostly attributable to the Honda Odyssey," said Doug Eaton, president and CEO. "The Honda Odyssey, in the mainstream market, has just exploded."

VMI has added 32 full-time employees and 18 contract employees, for a total of 200 employees. The new positions range from product associates to skilled laborers like welders to engineers.

In addition to the Odyssey's popularity, VMI's growth has been driven by an increase in the number of baby boomers and injured war veterans, and an increase in the company's market share.

"It's literally a perfect story of positive things that are happening for us right now," Eaton said.

VMI expects its growth to continue this year and beyond, with the "highly anticipated" roll out of the 2011 Odyssey in September.

"Honda has really broken out of the 'soccer mom' mold and pushed the design boundaries to be very stylish and to be somewhat of a crossover meets minivan," Eaton said.

VMI's converted version of the new Odyssey will benefit from the company's new lean manufacturing process.

"In the past, our product designs have been very entrepreneurial, meaning they've been without a lot of discipline or statistics or expertise from the automotive industry and the electromechanical industry," Eaton said. "With this product launch, we've raised the bar. That's going to create, ultimately, a lower cost product that's more reliable and more affordable and, therefore, more in demand."

VMI, which has 250 dealers, also provides converted versions of the Dodge Caravan and Chrysler Town & County, as well as platform lifts, scooter and wheelchair lifts, and transfer seats.