Pharos-Tribune

August 16, 2013

Winamac wheelchair vehicle manufacturer expands

Braun Corp. expects to create 70 new jobs

by Mitchell Kirk Pharos-Tribune
Pharos-Tribune

---- — WINAMAC — A wheelchair vehicle manufacturer is adding a production line onto its headquarters that will allow it to offer more types of vehicles to customers and create 70 new jobs.

The Braun Corporation will invest $7.5 million to move production operations from its Kalamazoo, Mich., facility to a converted 18,000-square-foot production line at its Winamac headquarters that will be operational by late next year, a press release states.

“We’re very excited about it and very excited to see the state was receptive to our growth and investment plans,” said Kevin McMahon, executive vice president of sales and marketing at Braun.

The Indiana Economic Development Corporation offered Braun up to $500,000 in conditional tax credits and up to $100,000 in training grants, the release goes on to state. The company will be able to receive those performance-based incentives after Indiana residents are hired.

The expansion is expected to create 70 new jobs.

“The workforce in Kalamazoo is excellent, no doubt, but we determined the company can be even more efficient by consolidating the production of those vehicles in Kalamazoo here in Winamac,” McMahon said.

Braun currently has more than 800 full-time employees in Indiana and has begun the hiring process for the additional employees that will accompany the expansion in Winamac.

McMahon said Braun has offered full-time positions to its Kalamazoo employees, many of whom have taken the company up on the offer.

The expansion will allow Braun to convert trucks and SUVs, the press release states.

McMahon said this is the first time the company will be converting these kids of vehicles to make them usable for people in wheelchairs.

He explained when vehicles arrive at one of Braun’s facilities, workers deconstruct it to create an entirely new vehicle “that is designed to be optimized from the ground up to be a great experience for someone in a wheelchair.”

He said that entails lowering the vehicle so it can be more safely accessed by someone in a wheelchair. The interior of the vehicle is then completely redone to allow adequate space, and ramps are also installed.

McMahon said the renovation of its existing Winamac facilities to allow for the installation of new processing equipment will begin in the next few weeks.

Along with its Winamac headquarters, Braun also has facilities in Elkhart, Florida, Arizona and Sweden and its products are distributed globally, the press release states.

Mitchell Kirk is a staff reporter at the Pharos-Tribune. He can be reached at 574-732-5130 or mitchell.kirk@pharostribune.com.