Wheelchair Vehicle Manufacturer Growing in Indiana

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A Pulaski County-based company is planning to expand operations and add up to 70 jobs in the state over the next few years. As part of its $7.5 million investment, the Braun Corp., which makes wheelchair-accessible vehicles, will relocate production from a Michigan facility to Winamac. August 12, 2013

News Release

WINAMAC, Ind. - The Braun Corporation, a wheelchair lift and wheelchair vehicle manufacturer, announced plans today to expand its headquarters here, creating up to 70 new jobs by 2016.

"With their vision and drive, Hoosiers have a way of making the world a better place," said Governor Mike Pence. "Through Ralph Braun's ingenuity to develop new ways to expand mobility, he built a business and a legacy that helps expand opportunities for individuals around the world. I'm proud that as a state that works, Indiana provided the best business climate for Braun to build this company and help people maintain active lives, regardless of physical limitation."

The homegrown-Hoosier company will invest $7.5 million to relocate production from its Kalamazoo, Mich. facility to Winamac and convert an 18,000 square-foot production line located at its Winamac headquarters. The new production line, which is anticipated to be fully operational late next year, will allow Braun to convert additional Dodge, Chrysler, Honda and Toyota minivans into rear-entry, wheelchair accessible vehicles.

As part of the expansion, Braun will also install a new line to convert trucks and SUVs. To support this product growth, the company will expand its infrastructure and facilities, including an upgrade to material handling, shipping and receiving operations. It will also launch a new enterprise resource planning system.

"We are truly excited about what our growth plans mean for our customers, our employees, as well as the local community and the state of Indiana," said Nick Gutwein, president of Braun. "We firmly believe there is no better place to invest than Pulaski County. Here, in rural Indiana, we have been able to build a company over four decades with men and women who have a true desire to create the best products. They are skilled, possess a very strong work ethic and instinctively believe in putting customers first. This incredible workforce, combined with government policy by Indiana lawmakers who understand business and economic growth, continue to make Winamac our location of choice."

Founded in 1972 by Ralph Braun out of a desire to improve his own mobility, Braun designs and manufactures wheelchair lifts and wheelchair accessible vehicles. In addition to its Winamac headquarters, the company also has facilities located in Elkhart, Ind., Florida, Arizona and Sweden. Braun's products are distributed globally.

The Indiana Economic Development Corporation offered The Braun Corporation up to $500,000 in conditional tax credits and up to $100,000 in training grants based on the company's job creation plans. These incentives are performance-based, meaning until Hoosiers are hired, the company is not eligible to claim incentives. Pulaski County approved additional tax abatement at the request of Pulaski County Economic Development.

Braun, which currently has more than 800 full-time employees in Indiana, has already begun hiring additional production line associates and will fill engineering, management, information technology, sales, marketing and aftersales positions over the next year. Interested candidates can apply in person or visit www.braunability.com.

"With Braun's longstanding history in the community and the number of residents that they employ, it is obvious what a valuable component they are to Winamac and all of Pulaski County," said Jay Sullivan, president of the Pulaski County Council. "Pulaski County and Winamac celebrate this expansion and welcome this news of new jobs for Hoosiers and continued investment in our community, and we're excited to be able to assist and encourage them, now and in the future."

About Braun

The Braun Corporation is the largest manufacturer of wheelchair accessible vans, ramps, and wheelchair lifts worldwide and enables people with physical disabilities to regain mobility and lead active and independent lives. The Indiana-based company was founded by Ralph Braun, who was diagnosed with spinal muscular atrophy at a young age and unable to walk by age 15. Ralph was motivated by his disability to invent the world's first electric scooter (the Tri-Wheeler) and wheelchair lift (the Lift-A-Way) in his parents' garage. Word spread and demand for the product increased, resulting in the birth of Save-A-Step Manufacturing, which ultimately became The Braun Corporation. The company offers the most diverse line of vehicle platforms in the industry, including the BraunAbility Entervan (Chrysler/Dodge and Honda) and the BraunAbility Rampvan (Toyota Sienna). For more information please visit www.braunability.com.

About IEDC

Created in 2005 to replace the former Department of Commerce, the Indiana Economic Development Corporation is governed by a 12-member board chaired by Governor Mike Pence. Victor Smith serves as the Indiana Secretary of Commerce and Eric Doden is the president of the IEDC.

The IEDC oversees programs enacted by the General Assembly including tax credits, workforce training grants and public infrastructure assistance. All tax credits are performance-based. Therefore, companies must first invest in Indiana through job creation or capital investment before incentives are paid. A company who does not meet its full projections only receives a percentage of the incentives proportional to its actual investment. For more information about IEDC, visit www.iedc.in.gov.

Source: The Indiana Economic Development Corp.