PONTOTOC • When the U.S. Veterans Administration was looking for a scooter to make available for veterans’ use, it tapped Pride Mobility Products Corp., a company that since 1986 has been the leading designer and manufacturer of mobility products.
Pride was awarded the project to build the Victory 10 scooter, and the production line shifted from Pennsylvania to Mississippi in March.
“Since we’re the world’s largest producer of mobility products in the world, we lead the industry as far as having products that are good for our veterans who may have a disability, but also for regular consumers in the marketplace,” said Dwight Hardison, the managing director of the Pontotoc plant. “Looking at the need for this, we saw more of a demand, especially on the veterans’ side, we were able to obtain the contract to build the scooter.”
The contract with the VA means veterans can buy the scooter at a guaranteed price at any home medical equipment store across the country.
“Part of the restrictions with the contract is that it has to be made in the U.S., and not offshore,” Hardison said. “And originally, the scooter was being made at our corporate headquarters in Pennsylvania, but due to the dedication and pride we put in our products here in Pontotoc, we were able to move the line here.”
Annie Gibson, one of several workers wearing an American flag-themed T-shirt, was enthusiastic about being able to build the scooter.
“I’m happy that we’re able to help people be mobile again,” she said.
Mendy Mayo also has a vested interest in the line.
“My daddy’s a veteran, and so is my daughter, so it’s very exciting to do this,” she said. “It’s very heartwarming to be able to help people.”
While the plant has a total of about 170 workers, about 20 or so are dedicated to building the scooter. They have to undergo specialized training to meet strict requirements, and the plant also is the only FDA-approved furniture manufacturing plant in the state.
“Normally there’s six to eight people on this specific line, but there are others we can flow into it as needed,” Hardison said.
The other Pride Mobility workers build medical lift recliners and other mobility scooters at the factory.
The plant can roll out a Victory 10 scooter every 20 minutes or so, about 500 scooters a month. Production can increase as demand warrants, and Hardison said that’s already happening.
In addition, the plant will be getting another production line started in a few months for another scooter, the Jazzy Air II. Those scooters are currently made in China, but the work will be shifted to Pontotoc.