Corporate story

From wheelbarrow to stairlift...

The plan to set up my own stairlift business had always been there, but it’s not something that can be accomplished instantaneously. You have to lay the groundwork first. I served as a product developer for a prominent stairlift firm from 1996 to 2006, during which time I was instrumental in the development of their current product lineup, inclusive of all the manufacturing machinery. In 2004, the organization underwent a transition when it was acquired by an investment firm. My role encompassed sourcing cost-effective products from China and various other locations. This responsibility had me travelling around the world until 2011, fulfilling procurement requirements.

In the meantime, bureaucracy had set in at the office and three times a week we sat down with a 20-member management team to push through all the action points for another week. During my overseas business trips, I had a supplier making an electric wheel specifically designed for a wheelbarrow. Upon my return to the Netherlands, I successfully integrated this wheel into a standard wheelbarrow procured from a local hardware store. With the wheelbarrow, a non-disclosure agreement and a quotation for 250 wheelbarrows, I went back and half an hour later I had a signed quotation and a 50% deposit. Despite the initial lack of resources such as a bank account, a company, and personnel, a commitment was made to supply 250 wheelbarrows within a three-month timeframe for a significant exposition. In a mere fortnight, business entities were established, banking facilities secured, and orders for wheels were placed with Chinese suppliers. Subsequently, a workshop was borrowed from an acquaintance to assemble the inaugural batch of wheelbarrows, employing the collective efforts of family members. 

Between the period leading up to 2011, all revenues generated by the business were reinvested to fuel its growth. In 2010, after many sleepless nights, I leased a property with higher rental cost than the business turnover. This move necessitated a reduction in my weekly hours from 40 to 24, freeing up more time to concentrate on the enhancement of the business. The work schedule prior to this adjustment was primarily on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday evenings, and throughout the weekends. In 2011, a significant shift occurred when I decided to exit the stairlift company, abiding by a contractual obligation which prohibited me from manufacturing stairlifts for a period of 5 years.

In 2016, I went straight back to developing a stairlift for another stairlift company (these lifts were also designed by me). Regular visits to their manufacturing facility sparked the inspiration to establish my own, with an emphasis on simplicity and innovation, steering clear of conventional manufacturing processes. This led to the conceptualization of the modular rail. Amidst a market teeming with low-cost alternatives, the vision was to distinguish our product through luxury and comprehensive features as standard and the UP Stairlift was born. We wanted our stairlift to be the Audi/Mercedes among stairlifts. A significant aspect of the business model was to maintain a lean team and enable online sales, a goal we have successfully achieved. 

And the story continues…

Dennis Vroegindeweij – Owner

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