Every Monday, we present to you a company that innovates.
All-terrain wheelchairs, which can be used on the lawn, on the beach or on trails, entirely designed and manufactured in Quebec.
In 2018, four men from the Portneuf region, near Quebec, teamed up to market the all-terrain wheelchair that one of them had patiently designed for eight years. This trained engineer, inventor in his spare time, had lost the use of his legs after an accident. Thus was born TrackZ Mobility. “He realized that he was no longer able to play outside with his children on the lawn,” says one of the four co-founders, Hugo Lefebvre, now the company’s general manager. He made prototypes to come up with something satisfying. »
Mr. Lefebvre describes himself as having been “in business for 25 years”. He had been working in real estate since 2010 and had just completed a project. “I had an opening in my agenda. I thought the cause was extraordinary, I didn’t understand why it didn’t exist. »
TrackZ Mobilité, based in Saint-Raymond, has a dozen employees.
TrackZ Mobility has designed four models of wheelchairs, one of which is motorized and looks like a three-wheeled motorcycle. The emblematic model is the HP+, whose two wheels have mountain bike tires and to which a small wheel has been added at the front for more stability. The chair can be used on almost any uneven ground.
Everything is made in Quebec and assembled in the Saint-Raymond workshop, with a few exceptions for small specific parts, rejoices Mr. Lefebvre.
“There were a lot of wheelchairs for indoors, and options for sports people outdoors. But there was nothing for Mr. and Mrs. Everybody who just wants to carry their garbage over a gravel path or play on the grass. »
An armchair that looks like what is done for indoors, but usable outdoors, it’s simple, but no one had done that. The need was there.
Hugo Lefebvre, co-founder and CEO of TrackZ Mobility
The base model costs $5000. The choice of materials, which we want to be light and durable, the customization and the fact that it is a niche product explain this high cost. “We don’t sell 10,000 a year; a big year is 250 seats. To help users who do not have access to government reimbursement, which is 80% of customers, TrackZ Mobility also organizes crowdfunding campaigns on its own site. “It’s our baby of the last year, explains the general manager. We have reached nearly $200,000 raised for customers. »
For the first two years, TrackZ tried to use existing distribution networks and quickly establish itself in international markets. “It didn’t work,” admits Mr. Lefebvre. Any chair maker will tell you, distribution is a problem, and the pandemic has made it worse. »
Change of course, TrackZ decides to go “all in” in Quebec. “We had incredible success, where we didn’t think we had any. We increased our sales by 1000% last year, it’s going really well. The Saint-Raymond company manages its own distribution, essentially partnering with occupational therapists in rehabilitation centers and selling directly to its workshop-boutique. “We hardly go through the stores anymore. »
Design is always a challenge, with each chair being customized to the needs of the buyer. “No two armchairs are alike, we really make them to measure. »
After having broken its teeth on exporting, TrackZ is preparing to try the experiment again, but in a more modest way and by assuming distribution, with the opening of a second workshop-boutique in France, more precisely in Brittany, in 2023.
At the end of the year, we hope for an expansion in Western Canada.
In addition, new models are prepared in the workshop. “I don’t want to give too many details, they haven’t been announced yet, but we have several products on the table ready to be developed. »