Wheels on the beach: New business offers beach wheelchairs
Morris Padgett knew from the first time he saw the Beach Cruiser, a self-powered beach wheel chair, that he’d found a new business venture he could stand behind. He had been working for years in Real Estate in Birmingham Ala., and when he learned that his coworker Amy Santagth was manufacturing a newly invented beach powered wheelchair, he was ready to jump on board with the product.
“When she showed me what they were doing I was just fascinated by them,” he said of the new-to-the-market chair. “I couldn’t get them off my mind, and so I decided that’s what I wanted to do.”
Padgett traveled to Orange Beach, Ala. to meet inventor Jerry Nasello who developed the chair after being diagnosed with Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) in 2005.
“He originally developed a cart to get his beach supplies down to the water, and as his muscles deteriorated he developed a chair, first using PVC, and then slowly developed it into what we have today,” said Padgett.
The Beach Cruiser now features an aluminum frame, a vinyl chair with a seat belt and special Wheel-Eez tires developed specifically for the sand. The five-speed electronically motored chair also features a cup holder and beach umbrella mount.
“It is self propelled so that the person riding it can control it themselves,” said Padgett. “It gives the user a whole new sense of independence as they can go up and down the beach as they please.”
Last year Padgett launched his rental business Beach Powered Wheelchair Rentals in Panama City offering both powered and push style beach wheelchairs. With no storefront location, Padgett offers delivery options spanning from Fort Walton Beach to Cape San Blas.
“When we take a reservation we deliver the chair to the individual, to the front door, and help them get comfortable with it,” he said. “Then when they are through with it we pick it back up.”
Although his delivery route spans more than 100 miles, Padgett said that Destin has been his most popular rental request spot by far.
“In the market between Panama City and Destin, the Destin area has a much higher demand,” he said. “Last year it was over 50 percent of my rentals coming out of Destin.”
Now going into his second year, Padgett said he hopes to bring a larger focus to the Destin area and help more people gain access to its beautiful beaches.
“The chair becomes a destination for them,” he said of his clients. “If they can find the right accommodation, they’ll be back every year. It’s just a niche market that has been overlooked for a really long time.”
Overall, Padgett said the best part about the new business is the joy it brings his clients.
“It’s been really gratifying,” he said. “Our motto is, ‘Don’t just observe life, live it,’ and seeing kids that have been in a wheel chair all their life, getting out on the beach in the Beach Cruiser, I feel like I’m 30 years old again starting a new business like this.”
For more information or to reserve a chair call 333-0210 or visit www.beachpoweredmobility.com.