The off-road mobility vehicle was a life-changer for wheelchair-bound Todd Lemay (who suffers from brittle bone disease). “I purchased a TerrainHopper for myself from the UK. It allowed me to go places I had not been able to go before, and the positive reaction from people when I was out in it was overwhelming. … I wanted to bring the TerrainHopper to the U.S. to give other people the opportunity to experience the new-found freedom that I now had.”
He founded Tempe-based TerrainHopper USA LLC in November 2017. For the next steps, he had to go beyond his previous experience as a serial entrepreneur. “I have always started and been involved with service-based businesses where all you need is an office, phone number, business cards and a service to sell.” The new endeavor required procuring parts from different suppliers, working with various metal shops to fabricate more than 100 different custom TerrainHopper parts, and coordinating with his counterparts in the UK to ensure everything was to the original TerrainHopper specifications. “All this had to be done while, at the same time, obtaining and learning how to read CAD drawings, procuring the correct tools and equipment that we need, and designing and building a production line to assemble the TerrainHoppers,” he recalls.
“To overcome some of these challenges, I have surrounded myself with knowledgeable, hard-working people who understand our goal to build the most capable and highest-quality mobility vehicles that will improve people’s lives. We also partnered with a local fabricator whose core business is to modify vehicles to make them easily accessible and drivable by those who are mobility impaired.”
Another challenge lay in marketing and selling a high-end electric mobility vehicle to customers who, in many cases, do not have the opportunity to see and test drive before purchasing. Addressing this, Lemay has created dozens of videos showing all the features and capabilities of the TerrainHopper. “If there is something they want to see and we don’t have a video of it, we will try our best to make one and send it to them. We want our customers to have as much information as possible to make the decision on what TerrainHopper and options work best for them.”
Says Lemay, “We have learned a lot over the last eleven months and any challenges we had to overcome are well worth it given the wonderful people with amazing stories we’ve had the opportunity meet and work with.”