Made in Arizona: Local company breaks down vans and rebuilds them for greater purpose

(PHOENIX) FOX 10 -- Vantage Mobility International, or VMI, is taking shiny, new vans right off the lot, and breaking them all the way down so they can build them back up -- with wheelchair access.

"We have to make those modifications to the vehicle," said Mark Shaughnessy, CEO of VMI. "[We have to] lower the floor, insert a ramp, [and] make all the electronic modifications so that a family can operate on their own."

VMI is headquartered in Phoenix and Shaughnessy says it all started back in 1987 with a local family helping out a friend.

"They solved a problem for one family, another family found out about it and came to them and said, 'Can you do it for me, too?'" Shaughnessy said. "Next thing you know, you have an Arizona-based business that has close to 250 employees and has served thousands of families across the United States."

And it's a need that continues to grow. Three percent of people in the US use a wheelchair, but many of them can't travel on their own.

"Many [people] depend on a third party service," Shaughnessy said. "[Some] depend on a buss, but it's hard for them to get around, and we change that for them."

COO Steve Morris, who's been with the company for almost two years, says customer satisfaction means everything.

"All the way down to the final car wash before [the van] leaves to our customer, we make sure it's completely waxed and looks as good as the showroom vehicle before it leaves," Morris said.

It's not an easy job -- vehicles are assigned to customers at one of 280 dealerships across North America. The dealership puts in the order, and VMI turns it around in just a few weeks. But it's the payoff in the end, that makes it all worth it.

"Every day I go home, I know I have accomplished something," Morris said. "I know my team has accomplished something. I was in Richmond talking with a customer who was on his third VMI vehicle over 21 years, and he could not stop talking about how we changed his life."

"It's neat to make a product, it's neat to provide local jobs, but when you provide actually hear from the customer and how we changed their lives for the better, that makes all the difference in the world."