The 2012 Small Tier Michigan Manufacturer of the Year Award is shared by a dynamic husband and wife team, Al and Beth Thieme, who were chosen by this year‘s judges to recognize their tremendous story of opportunity, innovation and success.
Al Thieme was determined to develop an innovative form of mobility in response to a family member‘s loss of mobility due to multiple sclerosis. Witnessing the loss of independence, Al was resolute that “there must be a better way.” It was from that determination the first ever power-operated vehicle/scooter was invented and the “friendly wheelchair” was born.
Amigo-Mobility has been a Michigan-based manufacturing company since founded by Al in 1968. His wife, Beth, joined Amigo in 1975. For the Thiemes, it isn‘t about manufacturing a product, but about changing lives. “Our children have grown up around the dinner table talking about the business, talking about the customers, meeting them face-to-face. Our customers are part of our family.”
“It is amazing to hear the comments from people who have purchased our product. It is so inspiring to hear them say how it has changed their life,” said Al.
Al and Beth are passionate about helping those with walking disabilities to maintain their independence and mobility, but also approach their business with a belief that they can make a difference in the Michigan economy. The company supports the state economy by using as many Michigan-based suppliers as possible; 67 percent of Amigo‘s suppliers are from Michigan or immediate surrounding states.
“Our company is built of high-spirited, adventurous employees who like to drive change and are always focused on the customer,” explains Beth.
The Bridgeport company has manufactured more than 200,000 Amigo‘s since 1968. During the acceptance speech for the award, Beth brought a round of delighted laughter when she joked, “We have 11 children—we know production!” All joking aside, Amigo Mobility is truly an innovator and leader in production methods. All Amigo products are completely recyclable and packaged with recyclable materials. In addition, the company has branched off into a new business venture, Parts for Carts, that has created additional jobs for the Great Lakes Bay Region through the purchase and repurposing of parts from motorized shopping carts.
This article appeared in the May/June 2012 issue of Michigan Manufacturing Insight.