An Overview of US Wheelchair Van Conversion Companies

There are scores of companies in the US that create custom wheelchair conversion vans for their customers.   However, there are really only two large players in the industry:   Braun Ability and Vantage Minivan International.   Braun is the clear leader in the market space, but VMI continues to push ahead.

It was not always that way.   As of 1999, there were four companies of note making wheelchair vans.   In 2004, there were still three-left standing.   Today, we are down to Braun and VMI.   What happened?

It is not the usual story.   It does not involve Braun crushing the competition in in order to help the company.   Instead, it involved Braun purchasing his competitors.

In 1999, Ricon was doing well with its conversion vans.   At the time, Ricon was gathering steam and was getting a great deal of positive attention for its Activan line.   Instead of opting just to compete with Ricon, Braun bought them out.   Braun Ability started making Activans under its own name and many of the Ricon assets were used to build a strong and still-growing commercial public use division.   Braun makes Activans; Ricon makes city buses with great wheelchair lifts.

In 2003, Independent Mobility solutions signed an agreement with Toyota, giving the conversion company a chance to exclusively offer conversions of its incredibly popular minivan, the Sierra.

Within a year, Braun owned the company.   While Braun Ability still seems to consider its Chrysler-based products the company’s flagship, it is also churning out converted Siennas now, as we speak.

Today the field of top US wheelchair conversion van companies is anything but overpopulated.   There are basically two players worth remembering–Braun and IMS.

Braun Ability has come a long way since its humble beginnings.   Ralph Braun has done a great job of running and developing his company.   Braun manages to supply fantastic quality customer service and a strong project in terms of history”¦   He also seems to have a knack for spotting businesses with whom he could work.

Braun Ability and VMI are both good companies with good products.   If you are in the market for a wheelchair van, you will not go wrong dealing with either of them.   You also have the option of searching out smaller, independent companies.   However, you do not have the option of buying from Ricon or IMS.