Magazine article Management Today

How We Beat the Odds: Greg Eden & Russel Simms, RGK, Founders of the Bespoke Wheelchair Manufacturer

Magazine article Management Today

How We Beat the Odds: Greg Eden & Russel Simms, RGK, Founders of the Bespoke Wheelchair Manufacturer

Article excerpt

We started the business in 1988 with another friend Keith (who subsequently left RGK in 1992). We were all three originally able-bodied people who had life-changing accidents in our 20s. Greg (left) had a motorcycle accident, Russel (right) had a car accident and Keith had an industrial accident: spinal injuries; all paraplegics. A big part of rehab was sport. We were sporting people before the accident so we just changed to wheelchair basketball, and got on with it.

As our basketball careers grew (they are both ex-GB wheelchair athletes), so did our opportunity to start a business - we knew we needed better chairs to play the sport. The wheelchairs we used then were everyday chairs that had no performance design. We'd get to our training sessions and start taking bits off the chair to help us perform better and a lot of people wanted to know if we could do it for them.

What was really difficult was knowing we wanted to make a wheelchair but not knowing how we were going to do it. To begin with, we sold wheelchair tyres and accessories, and that gave us some of the finance we needed because we didn't have a pot of cash. We never thought about getting anybody to invest - look at who we were: a bunch of young lads with this crackpot idea. Bank borrowing was difficult at that time because we had no equity.

Also, it's not like today, with the media and the Paralympics, when you talk about wheelchair basketball, people have an idea what it is. Then, very few people did. …

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