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The History of Able Axcess

In the late 90’s while working in the Equipment Management Service at Enable New Zealand, Rob Trubshaw was faced with a confounding issue. Builders were contracted to remove timber ramps from homes that had been previously modified for wheelchair access.

How to make ramp less slippery

Rob saw the need for an access product that could be reused multiple times, so when the first client no longer needed their ramp or moved homes, it could be removed quickly. This would surely be more cost effective than building a permanent timber ramp only to have to go back and demolish the same ramp when it was no longer required.

Rob came up with a design for a modular ramp system to help those with wheelchairs gain access to their homes. The idea was based around a simple set of ramp products that are modular and temporary when installed so it could be reused at another site.

The idea was put forward to a local engineering company who were enlisted to make a set of prototype ramps so he could sell his idea. The modular design proved to be a great cost-effective solution for the Ministry of Health and funding agencies.

The re-usable modular design of the Aluminium Modular system means that components can be recycled. This led to a rental ramp option, where a modular ramp can be hired for a short period of time. This means that you don’t have to buy it outright and can use it for however long it was required. And with the temporary nature of the system it can be in situ for as long as required.

Rob for several years, travelled all over New Zealand installing the ramps for clients as needed. Gaining popularity over the years, the travelling associated with installing the ramps led to Rob employing his son Gareth.

After a few years of installing large modular ramps, a need was identified for another simple product to help our customer over single threshold steps and through doorways. The rubber ramps were first introduced in 2009 and since then have been extremely popular with customers for a wide range of uses.

In 2011, demand had increased for the rubber ramps. Rob facilitated the design and construction of a special mixing machine so Able Axcess could produce its own rubber ramps. He sourced the recycled rubber crumb from a local supplier, the rubber comes from shredded tires otherwise destined for landfill.

With control of the rubber ramp product a line of standard rubber ramps and products were developed. But with the wide range of issues that come with the simple front doorstep, standard products do not cover every scenario.

This led to developing the custom sized rubber ramps, where the product is made specifically for the site. From the measurements taken during a site visit, a rubber ramp is manufactured in Feilding then installed or freighted to site.

Sometimes the rubber ramps can get too big to handle (rubber can have some weight to it) or the site too complex, so the team from Able Axcess can do a pour onsite. This where they take the same process from the factory, but with the use of a portable mixer, pour a custom rubber ramp on site.

Within a few years administration staff and more installers were required. With the increase in demand for the aluminium modular ramps this led to a need to employ full time staff to engineer and manufacture components in house. The rubber manufacturing plant was moved across the driveway to a new premise and the workshop was equipped with new machines and tools. Our engineers are highly skilled in the techniques used to manufacture the ramps, and diligently work to keep ahead of stock orders for the installers.

Fast forward to 2020 and the current staff of Able Axcess sits at 10 installers, 7 administration staff and 11 engineering/manufacturing staff producing rubber and aluminium ramps.

In 2019, after nearly 20 years of driving Able Access, Rob sold the company to an investment group, so he could enjoy an early retirement. Gareth has remained within Able Axcess and is now working as the General Manager.

One of our recent growth development strategies is to implement a branch in Christchurch. In November 2019 the Christchurch branch in Wigram was officially opened. The turnaround time for an installation was reduced significantly as it cut down the travel time on installation jobs in Christchurch, meaning clients were getting the access they needed more immediately. It also increased the ability to service not only Christchurch, but the entire South Island as the Christchurch location worked as a hub for the entire South Island.

Since the purchase of Able Axcess, Gareth has continued pushing the company to grow, in a similar vein to Rob. There have been many internal systems improved and currently there is initiatives for research and development to improve products.

This push and growth have highlighted a need to implement a branch in Auckland. With Covid-19 and lockdown there have been a few delays but in November 2020 the branch in Onehunga, Auckland will be opened.

RAMPS Seminar

Able Axcess offers a free seminar to DHB and Occupational Therapist teams throughout the country. This seminar covers off on housing modifications for safe access and how to measure and draw plans effectively.

If you or your team/organisation are keen to have one of the Able Axcess team come and present this for you please contact Jeremy via email: jeremy@ableaxcess.co.nz