Happy Birthday To You: Pride Celebrates Jazzy's 10th Birthday
Notable Characteristic: Mid-wheel drive design
Most Memorable Moment: Becoming the cornerstone of Quantum
Rehab's Power Chair Division
Home Health Products
spoke with Ted Raquet, vice president of Pride Mobility Products' domestic sales.
HHP: How did the idea behind Jazzy's birth come about?
Ted Raquet: Previous to 1996, power wheelchairs were pretty much awkward medical devices aesthetically. If you were picturing a power wheelchair prior to 1996, it was almost like you had a manual wheelchair that you added batteries to with a steel frame. It was an awkward medical device that was difficult to use and sorely lacking in terms of aesthetics and style. With the Jazzy, the Pride research and development team created a power chair that was much more intuitive for use -- the Jazzy's ground-breaking mid-wheel drive design, positioning the drive wheels directly under the user which means the Jazzy turns in a more natural way, making it much easier to use at home.
If you picture the old-style power wheelchairs prior to Jazzy's introduction in 1996, you had these large tires in the back of the chair, it was rear-wheel driven, which made for a large turning radius and made the learning curve very difficult for the end-user because it was completely unnatural to how they had ambulated. Now with the mid-wheel-drive technology, because the drive tires are in the middle of the chair, it led to basically no learning curve because it simulates the actual way you walk.
HHP: When Pride launched the Jazzy in 1996, what was the dealer and consumer response at that time?
Raquet: The Jazzy revolutionized power bases. People no longer had to design their home around a power chair because the Jazzy was designed to use in their homes. To elaborate on that, because of the overall width and length of the chair and the mid-wheel-drive design and the maneuverability of the mid-wheel drive, people were able to maneuver the Jazzy power chair in their homes. Where in the past, modifications needed to be made to the doorways, hallways, things of that nature, because the old style power chairs were much larger. Due to the more natural positioning, the learning curve with the Jazzy is much shorter compared to the old-style power chairs. People who had never used a power wheelchair before managed maneuvering the Jazzy in little time.
HHP: How has the Jazzy evolved over the last 10 years?
Raquet:The Jazzy is 10 times better than it was 10 years ago because we listened to what our product owners, providers and clinicians had to say. Their feedback has been instrumental in the Jazzy evolution over the past decade. The addition of Active-Trac suspension systems to our power bases has allowed us to keep up with the increasing numbers of very active users. Jazzy's almost limitless capacity to adapt and accept a broad range of seating and electronic options it has become the cornerstone of our Quantum Rehab division and has allowed us to meet the needs of even more users. Quantum Rehab evolved because we had folks who were in Jazzys who asked us to outfit that chair with more complex seating and more options than had been initially available; they helped us evolve the Quantum Rehab division. Also as the years have gone by, we have come up with more compact Jazzy models, with lower seat-to-floor height, that offered a higher level of maneuverability and portability. Throughout the Jazzy design, it has never remained static; it has been fluid, allowing us to change with the needs of our customers.
HHP: What's the future look like for Jazzy?
Raquet: We continue to evolve with the times. We constantly are looking at improving the product, continuing to listen to our providers, clinicians and end-users in making sure we are answering their needs and coming up with new technology. The Jazzy Power Chair continues to be a multi-functional product.
HHP: How was the name "Jazzy" decided upon?
Raquet: Our chairman and CEO Scott Meuser actually came up with the name. He requested that we come up with a name that matches, and I quote, 'for the jazzy product that we had developed' and that resonated and stuck. And now 10 years later, that name resonates with a benchmark in power chair design.
HHP: What is the most common compliment the Jazzy receives from end-users?
Raquet: Jazzy owners mention the maneuverability and the style in the same breath. We hear comments like, 'people notice me before they notice my Jazzy' which speaks highly of our goal to make power chairs that basically disappear seamlessly under the user. That's a great compliment.
We provide Jazzy through authorized and reliable provider networks that not only sell the power chair but follow up with the customer and provide service. They are a huge complement to our success; they are our business partners and together we make a great team. The reason we have our provider standards is because we want to ensure that we are working with the right folks that are going to serve the end-users to the best of their ability.
This article originally appeared in the July 2006 issue of HME Business.