By Brett Gerrish, Michigan Manufacturers Association
MiMfg Magazine, March 2015
Michigan manufacturers are known for the love they have for their craft. They create new products to improve a person’s quality of life. Some make a better car or a healthier type of food but it’s a special manufacturer that is able to replace some part of a person’s life that was taken away.
Al Thieme, chairman and founder of Amigo Mobility, and the rest of his team have a special connection with their customers — their product quite literally reconnects a person with the outside world.
“It’s important to love what you do and who you do it for,” said Thieme. “At Amigo Mobility, we never take what we do for granted.”
The small Bridgeport-based manufacturer of power-operated vehicles/mobility scooters began in 1968 when a family member of Al’s suffered an illness that took away her ability to get around. Determined to provide her a better quality of life, he sketched his first Amigo and enlisted the help of an electrical engineer.
“It changes people’s lives for the better,” said Thieme. “A person suffers quite a hit when they begin to lose their ability to walk and go out in the community. It’s something special to be able to bring a positive change to a person’s daily experience.”
As he discovered, more and more people in his community had similar mobility issues. He closed his plumbing and heating business, rolled up his sleeves and got to work in a small garage manufacturing the products now known as Amigos.
“When you’re stuck on the sidelines watching the world go by, it can become depressing,” said Thieme. “It’s all about finding a better way — solving a problem. We don’t do this for the money; it’s a service to help someone enjoy their life in whatever way they can.”
The simple design and easy repair allow anyone with mobility limitations to still enjoy getting around. “We aren’t selling a product and then that is it,” said Thieme. “We are blessed to have these continuous, growing relationships with people who depend on our product. That experience radiates with our employees and to their families. At the end of the day, this began out of the need to help family and that says everything about who we are at Amigo Mobility.”
Commitment to family and service to the customer are the company’s primary focus. Find a better way. This is the mantra they live by as they customize a solution to the unique needs of the client.
“I’m always looking for ways to improve — we like to say we’re constantly reinventing our products, our company and ourselves,” said Thieme. “I’ve been doing this for nearly 50 years and it’s still the greatest feeling to know that I’ve helped someone in some small way maintain their dignity.”