“One of the secrets of life is to make stepping stones out of stumbling blocks.”
– Jack Penn
By BECKY ANDREWS
We’ve all been there. There’s no hot water for your shower, you’re out of coffee, the car won’t start, and when you finally get it started, your youngest throws up all over the back seat. It’s one of those days you need a reminder that “this too shall, pass” or things could be worse.
Things REALLY could be worse! What if you were completely immobile? An injury from an automobile accident or a condition you were born with. Probably no way a person with a spine injury could get out of bed, much less make a pot of coffee, right?
Maybe, decades ago, but thanks to companies like Permobil, children and adults with mobility issues have the ability to lead an active life. “It is a gift, really, to be able to provide someone with a piece of equipment that will help them do some of the things we all take for granted,” said Larry Jackson, President of Permobil.
You have probably noticed Permobil’s new state of the art building, easily seen off Interstate 840. But the attractive exterior has nothing on the interior of the building. Permobil, Inc., is a global leader in the power wheelchair market. The new custombuilt facility in Lebanon features over 120,000 square feet of space — 80,000 for manufacturing and 40,000 for offices — on a 17-acre site.
Founded in Sweden, Permobil has it’s North American headquarters in Lebanon, Tennessee. (More information regarding the company’s storied history and complete product line can be obtained at www.permobil.com.)
For more than 40 years Permobil has been at the forefront of the power chair industry. They have been working with, and for, people with various kinds of functional disability. By meeting and becoming familiar with the thousands of people who have used their mobility products, Permobil is able to customize a chair that will help them with their day-to-day lives. Jackson added, “It is a privilege to have such strong, close relations with customers. It is also one of the reasons why we have had such success with our products and services. We always focus on people and their needs. Our products are the result of a unique collaboration between users, occupational therapists, and our organization as a whole.”
The move to Lebanon gave Permobil the space needed to transition from a per-piece assembly operation to a flow-line production. Utilizing Permobil’s core competency of customization, the manufacturing area is designed with the Custom Shop strategically placed in the center with the production line flowing around it. This allows each wheelchair to be customized at any point during the manufacturing process, rather than after the chair has already been assembled. Not only will these processes increase overall capacity and efficiency, but also they affirm the company’s steadfast commitment to custom-made products that meet each individual client’s needs. Furthermore, the facility gives Permobil the advantage in positioning the company for future growth.
In addition to the manufacturing innovations, the headquarters which opened in 2010, incorporated a variety of green-building technologies that help conserve energy and reduce overall operating costs, such as:
• 60-kilowatt solar panels — Offsets up to 30% of power consumption.
• 90 skylights — Greatly reduce the need for electrically-generated artificial light.
• LED efficiency lighting — Produces ample illumination and enables the building to operate at 5% below the allowable code for lighting even at night.
• Low-flow fixtures — Save the equivalent of an Olympic-size swimming pool of water each year.
• Recycling program — Processes five tons of cardboard annually.
“We took everything into consideration when building the new facility. We wanted to open the manufacturing area so you can actually see most of the area throughout the office space. We have to continue to be more efficient and drive down our operating costs in the current environment of shrinking allowable. We are excited about the building, but we are more excited to be a part of Wilson County. This has been a tremendous year for Permobil, and we look forward to continued growth and innovation,” said Larry Jackson, President of Permobil.
Permobil will continue to develop new systems that further strengthens a users' ability to control and interact with their surroundings in spite of their disabilities. In fact, one of their newest wheelchairs will be using a natural platform for both mobility and wireless communication and interaction with the surroundings, adding an even greater aid to independence and an enhanced quality of life.
With Permobil, the future looks exciting for Wilson County and the countless people they help each and every day.