FORT WAYNE, Ind. (Indiana's NewsCenter) - A tragic accident and a lost dealership have paved the way for a promising Fort Wayne Company. Ryan Elijah toured the facility that is giving disabled drivers something they've never had.
Ten years ago an automobile accident left Steve Kitchin in a wheelchair and he discovered that no company was making 4-wheel drive vehicles for severely disabled drivers.
Last summer, he and his business partner bought this truck and spent 4 months designing a way to fit his wheelchair. The result was a company called GoShichi and the response from disabled men particularly has been amazing.
Steve Kitchin said, "I've been overwhelmed, people have been paralyzed for 30 years and didn't have a way to get out hunting or fishing or whatever"
With little start-up money, GoShichi needed a place to convert their trucks and another misfortune paved the way. Tom Kelley never anticipated losing his Saturn dealership, but his now empty building provided a perfect place to convert the trucks. Kelley was so impressed with Kitchin's efforts he let him move in rent free.
Tom Kelley, GM Dealer said, "I had a misfortune of Saturn's franchise going away, I had an empty building. He had a misfortune of being handicapped and it just all came together. The good Lord just smiled on us with this partnership"
Just 45 days ago, Steve's company only had 1 employee, now there are 17 employees working inside this building and some feel the market could see this facility eventually have over 200 workers.
"the market is over 40-thousand or so vehicles and they're all mini-vans, if you just get 10-percent of those, that's 4-5 thousand conversions a year, this building would have to drastically expand and I could see over 200 workers at some point", said Tom Kelley.
GoShichi has already built 3 trucks and is working on an assembly line that will drastically increase their output of one truck conversion per day.
Making this deal sweeter is that the approved trucks, GMC Sierra's and Chevy's are made here in Fort Wayne and will be sold here. The conversion then costs about 25-thousand dollars.
Many injured veterans are already interested and VA assistance money will make the trucks more affordable, but Kitchin is the best spokesman for his company
"I can't stop smiling when I'm driving it"
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