BraunAbility is the world’s leading manufacturer of mobility transportation solutions. Founded in 1972 by Ralph Braun in Winamac, Indiana, U.S.A., today the company is one of many high-quality, high-growth businesses in Investor AB’s Patricia Industries portfolio. Investor AB is the leading owner of Nordic-based international companies, founded by the Wallenberg family more than 100 years ago. In April of 2018, BraunAbility purchased Autoadapt, Martech and Unwin Safety Systems, and a year later all three companies merged to form the European division of BraunAbility.
Although BraunAbility was originally founded by one man, Ralph Braun, each of the three European companies were also founded by pioneers of the mobility industry. Learn more about our history below.
Norman Unwin – Unwin Safety Systems (established 1956)
In 1960, at the request of a friend, Norman Unwin created what came to be the wheelchair clamp – the world’s first device to secure wheelchairs in vehicles. This invention represented a turning point for Norman, who later dedicated his life to improving vehicle safety for wheelchair users. With a portfolio ranging from wheelchair tie-downs to occupant restraints and flooring solutions, his company became a highly-regarded brand in the mobility industry. A testament to Unwin’s commitment to safety is the dynamic testing laboratory, built in 2012.
Ralph Braun – BraunAbility (established 1972)
At the young age of six, Ralph Braun was diagnosed with a fatal form of muscular dystrophy. In time, Ralph and his family would realize doctors were wrong – his diagnosis wasn’t fatal, but it was lifelong. Ralph became determined to reclaim his independence and designed the world’s first powered scooter to keep his job as a quality control inspector at a nearby factory. When his job moved further away, Ralph moved with it – this time in a renovated postal Jeep with hand controls and a hydraulic lift.
When others took notice of what he was doing, requests for orders began pouring in. Knowing the difference his products made for himself, Ralph dedicated his life and his savings to building his company. BraunAbility grew into the leading manufacturer of wheelchair lifts and wheelchair accessible vehicles with hundreds of dealers around the world.
Peter Wahlsten – Autoadapt (established 1996)
In the early 1990’s Peter Wahlsten worked as an adaptation technician at a small company in Gothenburg, Sweden. When the owner filed for bankruptcy, Peter seized the opportunity and started his own business. Through his work he had seen how an adapted vehicle could change the life of someone with a disability, and that desire for independence wasn’t just local, it was global. Autoadapt began designing and manufacturing various mobility solutions that could be installed into cars universally such as the Turny seat lifts and the Carony transfer wheelchair. With a focus on user safety and product quality, Autoadapt quickly became one of the most trusted companies in the industry.